Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A few steps behind

Emotions and posts whirl through me on a daily basis. By the time I sit to type a whole other phase of life has begun. I have to start from this moment.

Jedi Bill, Ali's (pirate) grandpa, Will's father, has passed away Monday evening in the Philippines. When he asked how to say grandpa in Czech, Ali responded, "deda." "Cool, like Jedi!" he exclaimed and it has been Jedi ever since. It is unreal as he was only in his 60's, but somewhat anticipated. (His health was in a poor state.) A calm presence, he will be missed to a degree not yet realized.

Concurrently, (not to be emotionally insensative with the massive event of the past paragraph,) plumbing in our apartment is being worked on so that the toilet doesn't leak, the washing machine no longer backs up into the kitchen sink with a thick lining of garbage, the tub no longer backs up if the water pressure is too strong. On Thursday the first load of my grandmother's belongings goes to recycling and I've started carving the first of the 120 soaps.

We need to make another trip to Praha to meet with layers about our visas and find housing there within this month. (Have to request apostilles on all of our birth certificates.)

Parenting for now has gone out the window. Leapster and dad are the main source of teaching and entertainment  Hopefully some structure will resume in Praha.

Missing 'HOME' and missing William Dale Swanda.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving thanks

I jump back to a post from a month ago

(after we got rid of most of our material possessions), when I realized that a home for me means my relationships- the friends and family that I carry within me wherever I go.

I miss you the most this Holiday season. (Not to overlook my second favorite thing, eating a meal that has been prepared for me!) Neither Will nor I are fantastic cooks. Thankfully the local pubs are providing us with delicious meals. But it is not the same as when all of you are around the table.

Hugs and Happy Thanksgiving! 

PS. If you do read or glace at these pages off and on, I would love to hear from you, about anything and everything. Kisses

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Majestic Prague Castle

Thinking about how this castle came to be over centuries, a project one undertakes for a lifetime or more accurately over many lifetimes! What drives one to not only do the massive architecture but also the most minute details?

Friday, November 18, 2011

I’m amazed at the flexibility and strength of my daughter.

waking up in Praha

This month she shifted from one side of the world to another, has spent a week in Boston, a week in Zlin, a week in-between Praha and Jesenik. She has gone between English and a little Czech (or just communicating through body language.) And she has survived 24/7 with her parents! That alone is a huge accomplishment! I’m very proud of her.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I used to stare at this light as a child and it intrigues me today. I love its design, beauty, elegance and awkwardness. It is peaceful to look at, serene in it's three modes of light- the central light, the small side lights or all together. On days like these it is all I want to look at and think about.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

two weeks

the atmosphere is magical

9 trains
6 subways
6 buses
and many trolleys later we are home after crisscrossing the country from Zlin to Praha, Praha to Jesenik and Jesenik back to Zlin.

In this whirlwind we enjoyed Old Town Prague, I interviewed for an art teaching position, we managed to find Ali shoes at the train station after she jammed her foot between the platform and the metro and dislodged her shoe, spent lovely time with family in the mountains of Jesenik (where it remained -2 degrees Celsius throughout the week,) and spent some time observing the health care system which warrants an entry of it's own.

I'm happy to be back and regroup.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dad Time

On the train to Prague

A much needed play with daddy on a four hour train followed by two metros and one bus. Enjoying daddy in the daytime is a whole other experience that we all welcome. (It’s not an easy job but they are adjusting.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Enjoying FALL

There are several inches of leaves on the ground on every sidewalk. It is a soft cushion for the feet on top of a delicious crunchy sound I had not remembered since childhood.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Alenka Sustkova

When I told her I was naming my daughter after her, she responded with uncertainty. She had never liked her name, she admitted. In Czech “ka” at the end of the word makes it a diminutive and although it is a very sweet way to call a child, she went by Alena throughout her adult life. (I chose it particularly for the ka, for the sweetness of it as well as the pretty sound.)

She married Jaroslav Sustek around the age of twenty and bore two children. She changed her name as is common to Sustkova. “ova” at the end of a name means "in the clan of" or "in the possession of." I dropped the ova off of my name as soon as we immigrated as the ownership did not make sense to me.

Friday, November 4, 2011

beginning 1.1.11

Migrating Sisters, 4x2x2" Racu fired clay

My sister and I immigrated to the States as children in 1986 from what was then communist Czechoslovakia. The expressions are taken from the moment at the airport right before our departure sitting on top of a pile of six suitcases. The piece Migrating Sisters speaks of instability. At the same time, we have each other to lean on and have learned throughout our experience thathomeis just that, the support. This touching has been a part of my artistic practice ever since.

-at 33 I have returned for a yearlong art sabbatical to the country of my birth but one I had not resided in since I was a child. (My mother was the same age when we emigrated from then communist Czechoslovakia in ’86.) It feels like a poignant return on many levels.

-the history is overwhelming both public and private- communist, early modern sculptures supporting heterosexual family and work values line public squares. I find personal postcards and scraps of my grandmother’s past throughout her one bedroom apartment which I reside in. I will be delving into this personal history and documenting my grandmother’s items. (I am reminded of Leslie’s work from the Hooligan class.)

-I am reconstructing a home both literally and figuratively. With our migration I have never had attributed home to a space, place or country. (I more or less carried the notions ofhomewithin me.) And yet now returning, I am reminded of the first smells and tastes I had known and attributed to the only home I knew as a child, those of the Czech Republic.