Tuesday, May 25, 2010

holding on

I was walking to a friend's birthday party this evening as I passed the basketball court, where these boys were hooping it up. They had more fun posing for me than actually playing I think. Before coming to Armenia, my friend Nadia who had done Peace Corps in Panama told me that part of the experience was finding something you could hold on to - because it wasn't going to be easy. I haven't forgotten her words, they are ever true. Photography has been the thing I have gripped on to, and I have used it at times to force myself to stay engaged here. Finding photography to be more important to me now than it was before has been just one of the gifts I've been given for having held on this long.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

the chickens

Her husband died years ago, and she has been helping raise her son's children and tending to the chickens and garden since. Her family says she has made pets out of the chickens, talks to them and spends more time than is really necessary feeding and what not. Widows and widowers don't remarry in this country, what was once was once. Anyone with a heart can put this story together. I've always liked barns and farm animals, hope to have my own someday too, and so I didn't mind helping her out this evening getting the 37 chickens back in their coop. And I don't think she minded the attention either, as she told me all about them and let me take her photo.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I spend probably an abnormal amount of time at my neighbor Hranush's house. She's always outside doing something with her hands - and I like coming over just to see what's up. Like I said though, a lot. I took these today under her house soaking up the last of the day's light while she toiled about planting things. The green braided strands of grass come from the fields, and once dried are good eating in the winter time. I didn't like them at all in the beginning. As an American kid who once endured awful frozen spinach with dinners caught slipping them into my glass of milk hoping it would go unseen instead of eaten, I had bad memories of cooked greens. But the Armenians in their magical ways make the stuff taste great. Nostalgia has set in deep for me now. I wish there were a pleasant way around not having to think about, and actually, leaving soon.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

river wild

It's been raining for forever now. I don't remember the last day of real sunshine - where it wasn't a half hour tease of warmth followed by the clouds taking over. The river near my house is raging. I love walking back there, and the last time I did I met these 10 year old boys who wanted to come with. We had a blast together - throwing rocks in the water to test the depth, jumping from one part to the next, soaking our shoes and pants. I never can get enough of water play time.

mother & daughter

This is my friend Arusyik, and her daughter Angelina. I'm at their house a lot, particularly in their blue kitchen watching the window light on faces drinking tea or eating something. I've taken many pictures of this family - they are my best Armenian friends. I was immediately hooked on their home environment the first few times and have had to come back since: the phone always ringing, someone usually crying, the door being opened and closed a thousand times, food laying out ready for someone else to graze on, people coming in and out and sporatic small parties over a half bottle of wine because it's Tuesday. It's the kind of home I hope to have someday - open to anyone, a little messy, full of the good things.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

going home


I just got home from the last conference, thank God, of my Peace Corps service. It was mostly a load of paperwork to be completed and information about life after this: jobs, readjusting to American life, etc. I recorded a few of my fellow volunteers who haven't been home in 2 years on what they were most looking forward to about it. Home is a concept, it is more than a permanent address or even a country of familiarity - and unlike some volunteers who are anxious as hell to get Home, I feel like I will be leaving Home to find and create another one.