December 23, 2005

November 15, 2005

letter from Jordanville

"...I walked down the 3 stairways, completely dark, to the equally dark cellar-tunnel. No need for a light, I know every step. Walk around the monastery cat's waterbowl on the corner, feel for the lightswitch at the boiler room door, and I can see again. I dig through boxes of old parts, and find the box containing new sealing washers for water faucets, and find the one that matches the worn seal in my pocket.

I look behind the boiler, and find father Flor's toolbox. 84 years old, He has not been the same since old father Myfodi died last year. No longer able to keep ahead of simple repairs, he often says, "it has only been broken for a year", and things remain broken. He is confused by Alzhymer's disease, and is angered if someone tries to do the work he once did. But he is Archimandrite, second only to Vladika here in the diaspora. So I quickly find the wrenches I need, and notice that he now absurdly wraps some of the wrenches in food-wrapping aluminum foil! Tools ars oddly, carefully arranged, I try to remember placement to avoid his wrath.

Back upstairs to the infirmary. Father Cyprian has asked me to fix the broken faucet. He is one of the people closest to God in this world. There are no patients today, last was my dear insane friend Sergeius Ternapolsky, once an electrical engineer, died of old age in Fr. Cyprian's loving arms here 10 days ago.

The faucet screws are frozen with rust, I use the small gas torch from behind the iconostas, used to light censers, to heat and loosen screws and handles, then replace rubber washers. It works! Only God can fix a rusty, leaky faucet. Robert only turns wrenches, and prays old parts do not break.

Back into the dark tunnel, tools away, exactly as found! and escape, unseen... other end of tunnel, Constantine, the drunkard worker, cleans 4 nice fish he caught with old father Iov today. We will eat some in the tropezza after things quiet down tonite, but I will no longer give him the vodka he hopes for, but he will not ask me for. He is in alcoholic's recovery program, I don't want this dear friend to die. He beats me in chess always by my third move, shakes his head at my poor chess strategy, and says, "Robert, for what?" as if I were committing suicide or re-marrying or something.

Bell rings, we hurry to tropezza, I sit by Vaseli, the worker, who is a natural artist, in stone sculpture. I have missed him, last saw him a year ago, when we were a little drunk and he photographed me in his cossack uniform.

We are surrounded by beautiful tropezza paintings. Vladyka leads us in prayer, then, best food I ever ate. Good Kasha, clabbered milk, monastery bread, mushrooms and noodles, borscht, tea. I eat quickly, head down, bell rings, prayer, and all end eating, dishes to kitchen, I help pick up, new cook Oleg gives me some special bit of food, I give him some dried figs I always carry, we talk about our children and broken families.

Fissuke offers a Russian language lesson. He has birth defect, hands like the claws of a lobster.We take tea and bread to my cell, but on the way, we stopat the "little church" 2 doors away for little compline, sing something in Russian, venerate icons and what I think are finger-bones of dead Saints. Then to my cell, re-learn some simple words I have forgotten, and soon I ask to end lesson, and sleep untill morning liturgy.

These are the people I love, and the way I prefer to spend my time. But when offered tonsure, I said no. I think of airplanes too much to be monk..."

(напечатано с разрешения автора
- перевести на русский? - н.)

August 29, 2005

"nothing can stop me..."

the wall ©natatu-2005

August 26, 2005


September 16, 2005 @ 7 pm (Friday)
Russian Poetry Night

At Chelsee's Coffee Shop & More 533 N. Trade Street
in Art District - Downtown Winston-Salem

Richard Schneider
(Wake Forest University)

will recite poems by Marina Tsvetaeva and Osip Mandelshtam in Russian and his own translations of Russian poetry into English.

Olga Zhitomirskaya-Muller
(St.Petersburg, Russia)

will recite poems by Joseph Brodsky in Russian and English as well as her own poetry

Art exhibit “Russian Butterflies”
by Anatoly Kudravcev-Kemeshes
on display at Chelsee’s September 1-30, 2005

In partnership with the Forsyth County Public Library.
Come and join us for a cup of coffee, poetry and art!

August 04, 2005


Image Hosted by
келья стaрца Иосифа на Афоне (from

"The riches of our Lord are many, but unfortunately there are few heirs.
To inherit them requires a bloody struggle,
but here there is only laziness..."

Elder Joseph the Hesychast
Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast.
Florence, Arizona: St Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1999.
подарок отца игумена

August 02, 2005

after the rain

went to our garden
the skyes were crying, garden - wet
i was giving every rose, every weed to you...





July 05, 2005

new carpet

We had an Open House on Friday at work. We celebrated our new carpet in the library! New (well, almost:) beautiful carpet with all colors of the rainbow in it!

It was donated to us by the department of corrections :) People from this department also helped up to reupholster chairs. Now we have carpet that matches chairs, and chairs that match indexes on our shelves! And walls are newly painted too!
Door prise for the guests was new Periodicals List of Holdings that Billy worked very hard on. It has very favorite purple cover.

here we are!
[click on the picture to see more of us]

Here we are. In purple - Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin, our library director. Behind her Billy King - the head of our department, N. - our new page , Rob Norwood - library assistant (and the artist) and Natalia, me or 'i'.

James Sands of course is at the beach :) But i am sure he was with us in his spirit (James, you missed ice cream... and a great cake... and strawberries... and... i want to the beach too...)

James Sands in the office
[click on picture to see more of James]

June 21, 2005

children speaking russian

My friend Brenda Britt wrote an article about Belorussian children. The article was published in Russian/American montly publication for North and South Carolina "Panorama Charlotta". Here is the text of the article and a picture of Brenda Britt.

Giving Hope To Belarussian Children

Brenda Britt
Brenda Britt (photo ©-ntuchina)

This summer if you happen to notice many children speaking Russian throughout North Carolina, don’t be surprised. Many families in North Carolina are hosting Belarussian children for six weeks through an organization called ABRO (American Belarussian Relief Organization). ABRO assists children and their families in recovering from the effects of radiation from the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl.

Many experts consider the Chernobyl nuclear accident one of the worst catastrophes in the history of atomic energy use. In addition to the damage to the northern part of the Ukraine where the Chernobyl plant is located, it is estimated that seventy percent of radiation fell on Belarus. While scientists debate the specific effects of this radiation and its long-term impact, doctors have noticed a large increase in certain cancers, mainly thyroid cancer and increased birth defects in children. There is an uncertainty among the scientific community about the exposure of such a large amount of radiation on the Belarussian people and their environment. As a result, Belarussians live with uncertainty which can be psychologically devastating. However, as the years go by, the world is learning more and doing more to help these people.

ABRO’s commitment is to focus on the children by offering them hope for the future. One of the many ways ABRO accomplishes this is by having a 6 week summer program in which the children stay with host families in order to receive rest, medical and dental evaluations, spiritual nurturing and recreation. Doctors note that such summer programs strengthen the children’s immune systems. The winter program includes trips to many orphanages in order to find out their needs and to take gifts and fruits to the children.

I am in my fifth year of volunteering with ABRO through my church Redeemer Presbyterian in Winston-Salem. Several members of my church host children from various cities in Belarus such as Brest, Babruysk and Mogilev. Also, some families at my church and other churches in Winston-Salem have hosted children from the area orphanages. Each group of children in the ABRO program arrives with a Belarussian chaperone/translator.

For the past four years, the main part of my work was to host our group’s chaperone/translator, Natasha Prytychenko, an English phonetics instructor from Mogilev State University. Natasha is like a sister to me. She has become a part of my own family and when I visited Natasha’s family three years ago I became part of her family. It was during this time, that I along with some members of my church and other churches in North Carolina along with a dental team from Raleigh traveled to Mogilev where we met and stayed with the families of these children. Members of our group toured hospitals and orphanages. We also visited both Baptist and Russian Orthodox churches. One of the orphanages we visited was Ryasno whose residents have mental disabilities. After our visit, ABRO through the help of generous donors was able to provide better heating and sturdier beds for the orphanage. This partnership with the people of Belarus has not only helped me recognize their needs and strengthened me spiritually, but helped me gain greater understanding and respect for their culture.

This summer I, along with other volunteers with ABRO look forward to another great cultural exchange. Since 1991 ABRO has arranged over 3,000 trips for children from Belarus to the United States. This year ABRO will have over 600 children in 14 states in 58 groups. If you want to find out more about ABRO you can call them at (919) 269-6033 or check out their website April 26th, 2006 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

June 12, 2005

stay with me

Many years ago - when Chernobil disaster happened - kind people from Redeemer Presbyterian church in Winston-Salem joined the programm ABRO. They invited kids from Belorussia to come to USA and stay in their families for summer. Children could get a lot of sunshine, love and medical help for free.

group of belorussian children and the interpreter

Yesterday i was invited for a picknick. Belorussian children are here, in Winston-Salem again! Picknick was hosted by Larry and Kathy Shindledecker. Here are some pictures from the event. If you want to print a paper copy, let me know - i'll send you a big file. Don't forget to click on each image to enlarge them!( ©natalia)

Oksana: swinds is fun!
Oksana is happy playing
Olia and Katia are happy with dinner

Olia and Katia are happy all children together

June 05, 2005


when i come home -
and - nobody there
i like that i don't have to react to anything

sensory deprivation tank

open windows
cracking noise of cicadas
summer night

May 31, 2005

bread crumb

крест на горе в Джорданвилле
cross on the top of the hill in Jordanville

"...If not for my sad looking tent and not for the quiet lake nearby it, i would leave this otherwise very significant place..." ( letter from Jordanville)

I knew The Pilgrim well. He stayed here for a long time... Some people even stopped calling him "a pilgrim"/ He became Vladimir. Sometimes he was talking about himself. But the best was his stories about the sea. He would leave his heavy Cross, that he is carrying voluntarily, and go in his past - where storms, and salty ocean waves, and vessels were taking him all over the globe.

The Pilgrim was sleeping for a while in the little closet in the summer kitchen, while he was working there... But he didn't stay there for a long time. He was moved to the White house. From there he went to live in the green house.

greenhouse where Pilgrim lived in jordanville
greenhouse, where Pilgrim lived in Jordanville

When winter started, he didn't listen to my call to go live in the cold, covered with snow forest, but moved to the basement of the bakery, and slept at the stove on the wooden boards. He helped us a lot - baking bread and peeling potatoes. A bird lived with him over there. She was eating bread crumbs... she left the monastery together with the pilgrim...

Pilgrims ideas about non-resistance to evil with force, about imitation of Christ and living like first Christians, did not meet much of understanding or compassion here... And one day... early in the morning he picked up his back pack and left on foot to Herkimer, to the bus stop.

Some of our Holy Fathers think that he is under some "lure" (prelest). No one is waiting for him over here. But when he comes, we are glad to see him again..."

May 30, 2005

Lev Ivanovich and Easter

Лев Иванович пасхальный

I am standing in the cathedral, the service is in progress. Lev Ivanovich is coming in, dressed in his yellow robe. I wanted to hide. First thought - he is going to come and, in best case, ask something. I am growing into the church column. He passed me by.

Now he goes the other way, to the exit. Coming toward to me, saying: "I need to change my walking stick to the black one". We went to the White house. He came back from his cell in sunglasses. I wonder, what all changes in his outfit might mean?

We went to the cemetery. I was looking for the grave of Father Gerasim. Lev Ivanovich said that he surely was at the funeral. He didn't show me the grave though, and did not concentrate on my question - out of three cemeteries where the grave is? - at all.

He was in the spring mood. He recited poems (told that he wrote these poems :) Told me that his dream is to go to New Diveevo monastery, to see his mother's grave. (People, may be someone can take him there!)

He asked me if i'm married. Then, answering my question, he optimistically said: "Not yet". Offer me to marry him :) When i said that i need "to think", he recited me Krilov fable "The Monkey and the Glasses". Presentation unexpectedly ended up with " were singing all this time - now go dance!" (out of completely different fable).

He was very gentle and kind, in the Easter mood. I blame myself that i didn't take him for a ride to the country...

Лев Иванович с куличом. Пасха 2005. Джорданвилль
Lev Ivanovich with the Easter bread. 2005. Jordanville, NY

Лев Иванович около собора. Пасха 2005
Lev Ivanovich at the cathedral. 2005. Jordanville

Лев Иванович следит за порядком на выходе из собора.
Lev Ivanovich is making sure everything is OK. Jordanville, 2005

Лев Иванович и послушник Александр Чернавский. Пасха 2005.
Lev Ivanovich and the novice Alexander Chernavski. Jordanville 2005

May 19, 2005

like this in paradise

like this in paradise
[click on picture to see better]

field of poppy-flowers at the highway 52 near winston-salem, NC

was driving on highway 52 today... ©.nt
[click on picture to see better]

field of poppy-flowers at the highway 52 near winston-salem, NC

field of poppy-flowers at the highway 52 near winston-salem, NC - ©.nt
[click on picture to see better]

May 07, 2005


...eyes like two pond...

“strannik you are leaving my eparchy -
giving you into merciful hands of the God's Mother..."

that is how we said goodbye

i imagine that he simply went into the sea

i will be sitting here, on the shore
throwing flat pebbles in the water…

strannik the pilgrim