December 19, 2009

balalaika live in my hands

I have learned my first piece on Balalaika - Russian folk song "In the orchid, in the garden..."

I always thought that an elephant stepped on my ear (as Russians say when you don't have a musical ear). But Nadia said it doesn't matter (who stepped on my ear) - all notes are written, and I can use music scores and play. It worked! :)

Nadia's father send a PDF file from Russia - texbook "Teach Yourself how to play Balalaika". It's an old guide, must be from 50s or older. It is very good! I have the instrument. It is a very special gift from one of the people who came to the Balalaika concert that I have organized in the library. It was in November. Almost 300 people came to hear Russian Balalaika musicians from Syktyvkar. After the concert I got a gift - it was balalaika instrument from Russia! Real one, with three strings, with corners... 'I have to learn how to play' - I told myself.

With Nadia's help I have learned 'perebor', "braiatzanije' styles, then played 'Andrew-the-Sparrow' for practice. Today I have learned my first 'real song' - Russian folk "In the orchid, in the garden"...

Irene, thank you for the instrument! Brings happiness!

Here is a great performance by Russian balalaika 'player' Arkhipovski "Sharmanka".

It is superb! Listen.

November 30, 2009

Peaks of Otter

Peaks of Otter are two mountain tops in Virginia. We claimed up the Sharp Top. Great hike! Strenuous. Enjoyable. There is a nice lake at the bottom of the peaks - Abbot lake. Nice lodge is awaiting for those travelers who want to see at all from the window.

Besides great hikes nicest thing about Peaks of Otter is - wild deers. The hunting is prohibited, so the deers are very friendly and not afraid of people. They are everywhere, and they are so peaceful. Very nice place! Pictures of me:) made by Nadia.

All pictures are copyrighted


November 25, 2009

where wild horses are

Here is my attempt to make a little movie about nice place -
Grayson Highlands in VA - where wild horses are
(paraphrase of 'Where the Wild Things Are' :)

Hope you'll like it! I don't encourage you go there. The less people there actually - the better :) This is my forth time in Grayson Highlands, first with the video ...

click here to watch

November 16, 2009

Golden Key concert

Fall 2009 Golden Key Music Studio concert. Instructor Nadia Bakhireva. Salem Towne Recital Hall. November 14, 2009. Collaborative pianist Carmin Mann. Link to the studio

Click here to view the album.

October 18, 2009

wooden time

We had a great time at the reception for the wood-works exhibit in Reynolda Library. Boris Radovskiy, the Master, shared his secrets of the fine woodworking. I called the exhibit "Wooden Time". I think that clocks are Boris' specialty. I learned about the differences between wood carving and saw scrolling. Boris is an inspired person, his works just keep getting better, and finer, and more intricate in designs with each new piece he does. He brought to the reception a new clock that he had just finished. Look at the pictures of his art works and of the reception.


October 11, 2009


click on image for a larger sharper view

The Raffaldini family dates back to the year 1348 in the town of Mantua, located in the Northern Province of Lombardy, Italy. They started growing grapes in NC years ago. We went to visit them. Very nice place on the top of the mountain, with the great view! Highly recommended for a small weekend trip. The climate in NC is very close to Italy. We had a wine tasting (Mr Raffaldini served the wines himself!) and a very nice walk on the ample grounds till it started raining :)

Raffaldini's website

crystals and diamonds

We went to Washington, DC. To the Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History. To see the crystals and gems (diamonds!). Absolutely awesome collection! Including chunks from the space - meteorites, meteors (metal looking, shiny, strange surface...) - Very interesting!

In 1990, the world's deepest drill hole penetrated to a depth of 12.3 km (7.6 mi) beneath Russia's Kola Peninsula. More than 99 percent of the distance to Earth's center still lay beneath the drill bit. We don't really know what is down there. We know a little better what comes to us from the space...

pictures above are clickable for a larger view

Two large, pear-shaped diamonds weigh 14.25 and 20.34 carats respectively. They once were supposedly set in earrings that belonged to Marie Antoinette, the queen of France who was guillotined in 1793 during the French Revolution. The diamonds were later acquired by the Grand Duchess Tatiana Yousupoff of Russia. When jeweler Pierre Cartier puchased the diamond earrings in 1928, their authenticity was attested to in an affidavit by Russian Princess Zenaide Yousupoff and her son, Prince Felix Yousupoff, stating that they originally belonged to Queen Marie-Antoinette and have never been reset in the one hundred years that they were in the family.

More pictures of the trip

August 30, 2009

Learn French

I have met a very nice person from Europe - Elesebeth Olsson. She agreed to volunteer at the library and conduct French Conversation Club for those people who would like to learn French language. The first class is October 3, 2009.


You are invited! Please let us know if you want to attend. Scroll down the flyer to see the information.


August 25, 2009

turtles with expressions

I really like these two turtles! I think this is really cool! I can see their expressions, characters, and two different moods... The pictures were made by my friend James Lashmit from Winston-Salem.

August 21, 2009

baking pirogi in Shanevo

This is my friend, Russian artist Sveta Krotova". She is in the village of Shanevo for the summer. "Time is flying faster than the wind is blowing. Mushrooms, berries, fish, housework and digging in the garden, the weather is not great, but may be summer will stay a little longer. The skies are clouded with the different shapes and colors - I am making a lot of pictures and experimenting with oils".

Here is Sveta with "pirogi" and "pechka" (picture made today in the remote Russian village of Shanevo). Look at the murals on the side of the "pechka"! :)

August 17, 2009

happy birthday in Wilmington

We went to Wilmington, NC for three day weekend to celebrate my birthday. Had a great time! Ocean was absolutely beautiful. We were swimming a lot. Nadia swims like a mermaid. I used my board - waves were just right! We spend a lot of time on the beach, walked from pier to pier and to the inter coastal waterway. Went to the restaurants in downtown Wilmington. Nice sunsets by the river! Visited Arlie Gardens.

See photos (фотки) here (тут).

August 13, 2009

game day

Little participant of the library story time concert. Screen from a small movie that I made at the event.

Now we have a new idea - Game Day! Do you remember games that you played in your childhood? Kids don't know how to play these days (computer games only!). Especially outside in a group. Together. Like relay race in flippers :))

What games you played when you were a kid? :)

August 02, 2009

visiting Totally Responsible People

Irene Lobb (Winston-Salem) and Max Anikeev (Kitezh, Russia)
click to enlarge

We had a very nice tea time in the Center for Purposeful Living in Winston-Salem, NC. Irene who is originally from Kazakhstan and now lives in the community, invited me for a visit and baked a cake (thank you, Irene!). Lee White, who went to Russian community of Kitezh this summer, came to share her experiences and thoughts. She has not only endured two hour talk that was held solely in Russian but actively participated. Her level of Russian is great! The other person there was Max Anikeev, the school principal in Russian village of Kitezh. He is currently visiting the Center for Purposeful Living.

We spend two hours talking about everything - the community of Kitezh , methods of educating children and helping them to get ready to make the world better and better themselves for the world, the meaning of traveling (to get out of your energy pattern box), the island of Valaam (where I lived), and Nikolai Roerich.

Irene's three month old son was quietly sleeping on her shoulder the entire time... :)

I have recorded our talk and made pictures of my new friends.

Children's Concert in the library

We had a great time at the children's concert in downtown library today. Nadia Bakhireva's students from her Golden Key Music Studio came dressed up. Carmen Hardy sung a very nice Russian song "Субботейя" (in Russian!) and another one in Spanish. Clarissa was singing a French song, and then another song in English, and her brother Mark was playing a keyboard accompanying her. Here they all are:

guests are coming and taking their seats... (all pictures here are clickable)

Mark and Clarissa Espinal - the stars of the show! (click to enlarge)

Carmen Hardy sung Russian song in Russian language! (click to enlarge)

after the performance - together and happy! (click to enlarge)

Chinese girl Chun sung and read a poem in her native language. We also had songs in German and Swahili! It was a very entertaining event with thirty people attending.

July 06, 2009

Our trip to Utah, Arizona and Wyoming

this is the big map of our trip
and (down below) the smaller map (both clickable)

In three days we are flying to Salt Lake City! We are going to visit the Land of Canyons in Utah - National Parks Zion, Bryce, Glen, Canyon Lands, and Arches.

Then we are driving down the map to Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge (Nadia's dream) crossing Arizona state line. Then we plan to spens some time in Monument Valley (my long time dream :) Then - back to Salt Lake city, and up - to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

Such as our plan for two weeks on the road.
We taking a tent and two pillows :)

July 05, 2009

Center for Purposeful Living

Yesterday we have visited the Center for Purposeful Living. It is located in Winston-Salem, Walkertown exit off Business 40. Fifty people live in the community. They call it 'Intentional Community'. Serving others is the purpose and the method of working with one's consiousness. The goal is to become a totally responsible person.

Their methods of inner work are based on the esotheric psychology of Alice Bailey (with greetings to Madam Blavatski naturally) and probably (my guess) to Live Ethics of Roerikhs. The community was build more than 20 years ago. It doesn't appear to be very active right now on the outside. They closed the facility for the terminally ill people whom they cared for years. The community was initially based on this idea of caring for terminally ill when it was founded in Boomer, NC. They also stopped operating California Buffet in Winston-Salem, and only do catering.

There is a shop on the grounds where the community members work with stones and crystals polishing them and making jewelry. We have met one young Russian woman named Irina in the shop. Irina gave us round glass balls with interesting design that she made. Irina has a baby that was born there three month ago.

Several of the people from the Center for Purposeful Living went this summer to the Russian community of Kitezh not far from Moscow. Russian orphans live in the extended families (large families!) in the village of Kitezh. The village was build for this purpose specifically. Kitezh now has a satellite village of Orion. The houses are round over there "so that kids would not hit the corners" builders say :) We have a book in the library about Kitezh written by one of the founders (in English) - Kitezh : a community approach to raising children in Russia. Check it out!

We were very happy to visit the Center of Purposeful Living and to share the meal with our new friends.

June 26, 2009

yellow ears

Nada with big yellow ears... "Harry Porter"s parking lot

June 24, 2009

Children's Concert

The concert is in August 1, 2009 (Saturday) at 11 am in the Children's Room in the Central library. Please come! Kids will be singing in Russian, French, Spanish and English. We'll learn some new words in different languages. You can sing along! :)

June 19, 2009

our weekend on New River

click on photos to enlarge
all photos ©natalia.tuchina.2009

June 13, 2009

kayaking on the New river

Nadia is ready (and clickable:)

We went to New River for kayaking. The day was perfect. It could not be any finer! New River is the oldest river in USA. It floats unusual direction, not like a river in the mountains suppose to. Seems that the river was here first, and then the mountains came up. New River made it's way here, in NC mountains, before the evolution got started, before the mountains were created :)

Despite its name, the river is considered by some geologists to be possibly one of the oldest rivers in the world, between 10 million and 360 million years old. According to local folklore, it is considered to be second in age only to the Nile River and thus the oldest in North America. The New River flows in a generally south to north course, which is against the southwest to northeast topology of the Appalachian Mountains. This peculiarity may mean that the New River's formation preceded much of the surrounding landscape.

We took a two-seater for $25.00 from Riverside Canoe that we found fairly easily using google maps (the drive from Winston-Salem took about 1 hr and 40 min). The guy with long waist length blond hair and Henry Thoreau attitudes took two of us up the river on the bus. His name was Scott. He looked like a computer programmer from Charlotte :) But he said he was born and lives in Jefferson, and that he enjoys the quiet life in the mountains very much. People here can stay and talk to you for as long as you keep talking. But when you done with your talk, you realize that they are actually quite busy :)

Scott put the kayak in the river. I asked Nadia whom she wants to be today - "a native" or "a scientist". She wanted to be a scientist and sat up front. I was "a native" paddling and doing the work so that the scientist can do the research and observations :) She actually did very well and saw a rare turtle!

The New River was designated an American Heritage River, one of only fourteen in the United States, in 1998. The New River is 337 miles long. Several rare aquatic animals make their home in the basin, including the bog turtle.

The river is so fast in some parts! In other parts it is very slow. The level is high because of recent rains, so we had no major difficulties going over the rapids. It was very enjoyable. I canoed on New river before. That time we flipped over to the amazement of cows on the banks - i lost my sunglasses, but didn't lose the paddle! This time we floated with the speed of the stream, just keeping the kayak going forward.

We passed by funny chain of people on tubes who got stuck on shallow waters. One daddy on the big tube was floating by himself along with two sons in the smaller tubes with "USA" proudly written on them. Daddy was teaching boys how to say really fast "The white background and the black background". I tried, and came up with "the white blackground" very fast :)

click to enlarge. All photos by Natalia Tuchina

art at Ollie's Bakery

In the morning Nadia and i went to Ollie's bakery in Downtown-Winston Salem. Nice people work there, among them my German friend Annette Zoelinger and my American friend Lee White, who is in Russia right now.

Really cool art works by Cindy Taplin are on walls there. One art work got me but not in the bakery - later, when we went kayaking same day and i saw the same trees but in reality. But may be reality was there, in the bakery, i can't tell. I just like this art work very much! I like the colors, and the texture. And light!

June 10, 2009

Ask 1st Grader :)

1st grade. St Piter. My Mom send this pic to me :)

May 31, 2009

Russian Carolina newspaper

Russian community of the Carolinas have started a new project - publishing newspaper "Russian Carolina" for the Russian-speaking people in North and South Carolina. It is mainly in Russian, but there is a section in English with Russian language lessons, articles about Russian culture and history. The publisher and the chief editor of the paper is Olga Zhitomirskaja-Muller from St Petersburg, Russia - a poet and a teacher. She has great experience in publishing business and design.

Here is the list of the locations where you can buy the newspaper (scroll down the page). The cost is 50 cents.

You can see the first issue here.

The new paper exists with help of advertisements. Please contact the editor if you'd like to advertise your business. It will help to get the project on it's feet! The publisher runs the sale on advertising in the month of June. You can also place a personal ad in English for free!

Stop by to pick up a copy on 'Russian Carolina" in the Central library in downtown Winston-Salem.


May 15, 2009

Nadia's studio Spring Concert

I was sitting till midnight to create this album - the Spring 2009 Concert of Nadia's Music Studio. For some of the students it was the first performance in their lives - and noone run away from the stage! :))) They were playing piano and singing - I really loved one song in French that Jennifer sang.


Click on the picture to see the album.

May 13, 2009

bee keeper

The first man-made flight has happened in North Carolina. We all have "First in Flight" on our car plates. Nadia and I went to Outer Banks and visited the Wright Brothers monument for the first time. Here is the result :)

Some people think that I look like a bee-keeper...
But the space suite makes me actually look like a space bee-keeper )))

April 29, 2009

Grandfather, Grandmother

We went to Grandfather mountain." Nice! It is now a state park, but the mountain is still belong to the family of Mortons. The state has purchased the land around. Same entrance fee - $15.00 per a person (not a car). I talked to a ranger, he said it was around 4 000 people on the mountain that day! But we found a way where it was nobody - GrandMother point. You get up there using the ropes (i liked that). Super! Miles and miles of North Carolina 360 around you. And the skies up above!

Not hot (yet). Everyone - get outside! :)

April 19, 2009


these are colored eggs that we received as an Easter gift in the monastery
at the end of the service, foto by Nadia

Xristos Voskrese!

Today is Orthodox Easter!

We went to all night service to the Panagia Prousiotissa - Greek Orthodox Monastery in Troy, NC. The monastery is part of 13 Orthodox Monastic communities in USA founded by the Elder Ephrem from Holy Mountain of Athos.

We are so fortunate to have two of them in North Carolina, in only 1 hour and 30 min from Winston-Salem.

Wonderful service, from 11 am until 4 am!
Nightingales were singing in the darkness when we came out of the church.
A lot of stars above!

March 04, 2009

Gurdjieff work

Yesterday I finished reading The Inner Journey: Views From the Gurdjieff Work. Edited by Jacob Needleman. 2008. It is an anthology. Most of the artcile have been published in Parabola. The book starts with this saying - To the path makers and the pilgrims on the path. The book contains the DVD of the movie Meetings With Remarkable Men produced by Peter Brooks. The movie based on the book written by Gurdjiev himself. It is a story of the search through the Middle East and Central Asia for answers about the meaning of life. I have read the book in Russian and then later in English :) The movie was made on location in the forbidding, rarely photograped mountains and deserts of Afganistan. Finally I saw it!

The scene when they survided the sand storm in the desert by getting on stilts is very interesting. But the most impressive scene is the dance. I found it on you tube (see above). It made a strong impression, almost scared me.

February 25, 2009

Lower back - taoist method

Soft and gentle exercise for healthy lower back.
All you need to practice is a big stone in your back yard :)

My favorite Winston-Salem coach - Michael :)

February 23, 2009

hot springs - recommended :)

Nadia in mineral water :)
photo copyright © Natalia Tuchina-2009

Went to the mountains, to the place Hot Springs, it is our local Kislovodsk (or Baden-Baden?). Seems that we have everything in NC, absolutely everything! Hot Springs is a village not far from Asheville, 3 hours from Winston-Salem, almost in Tennessee.

The road was easy, the weather was good.

In Hot Springs they have... mineral springs coming up from the mountains. The water is pumped through the tubs. This water not only mineral - it is hot! The temperature is about +104 F. Spa effect without any chlorine! And it's healing. View the healing chemicals here . Lots of health benefits. And a lot of pleasure (especially if you take a bottle of champagne with you! :)

Hot Springs is located at the confluence of the French Broad River and Spring Creek. A natural hot spring is the only such spring known in North Carolina and in much of the southeastern United States. Thus, this area has long since been a destination for those looking for therapeutic relief from their ailments. Native Americans were the first to discover the 100+ degree mineral waters, and European immigrants settled the area over 200 years ago. It is reported that people were visiting the springs by 1778 for the waters' reported healing properties. In 1828, a major road was constructed through the current town making the area more accessible.

By 1831, James Patton of Asheville bought the springs and had erected 350 room Warm Springs Hotel with its 13 tall columns representing the 13 original colonies in 1837. The dining room of this large hotel could seat 600 people! The railroad reached the village - then called Warm Springs - in 1882. A higher temperature spring was found, and the town's name was changed from Warm Springs to Hot Springs in 1886. Sixteen marble pools were surrounded by landscaped lawns with croquet and tennis courts, and it was know as one of the most lavish resorts in the Southeast. By May 1917, the hotel and grounds were leased to the US Government to be used as an internment camp.

Today, the springs are privately owned as a spa. Water is piped to outdoor tubs beside the river and Spring Creek.

The view from our tub was to the river. We had 2 pm reservation, but pulled in being 20 min late. We stopped at Engles in Black Mountain, and loved it there so much that had lunch :) Very nice grocery store, in the size of a stadium, the selection (of champagne) was almost unlimited :)

Hot Springs is a rustic place, tubs are located in deep woods (see this one :), grounds are very natural. Nadia was in hot tubs in Japan. She said it is very similar. The tub was offered to us for one hour - barely enough as we not only were splashing the water and enjoying sunshine, but also making pictures. Here is the result:)

Nadia in mineral bliss :)
photo copyright ©Natalia Tuchina-2009

If you decide on going there, take a jar for water with you. There is a spring on the grounds. Anyone can collect some mineral water and take home. We did! When we came home the water was still warm! It has so much energy stored..

January 28, 2009

hang loose!

hang loose! even if you're in Winston!

photo Nadia Bakhireva-2009