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I could say of course that being ill in emotionally trying times makes me better.

Which in its own way it does. I wanted to sleep. Not move or think for a while. My body was obliging. Although walking around open windows with only underwear on helps too. Self-destruction is not to be undertaken lightly after all. Invariably it requires an element of planning.

"I've caught the flu" an early English expression I learned (useful in school) which I remember puzzling me at the time. As though you could open your hand to it, snatch it from the air. As though illness were a butterfly.

Now that the wily hormones have settled down once more my state of mind also is improved. I've even done something productive. Following a conversation with a harried publisher who managed to sound genial while simultaneously impressing upon me the need to complete sketches and do so with some haste. I set to work.

Sometimes deadlines are a gift. They say that grief can be put aside. They say that it can be forgotten or transformed and merged into something else entirely. A voice, an image, flowing words.

Sometimes my hands are clumsy and sometimes they know what to do as though by magic. When the mood takes me. WHen I become something greater than myself, even if for a moment. When I pick up a pen, a paper, colours, a brush. Mix them in. Let them flow until they become fairytale things. A horse, long-maned. Intricate flowers. The graceful neck, the curved wings, the long tail feathers of a firebird. Orange on the outside, red on the inner layer, with a turquoise heart.

A fairytale for a cookbook. It was not my idea but the characters of Russian fantasy are easier to render than fruit and vegetables.

I do not know exactly what the man heading the enterprise intends. Certainly half of my family seem to be working on it. Like a small creative Mafia. My grandmother's old RUssian recipes, inherited from her grandmother, altered, adapted, translated by my mother. Written down, re-written.

Originally, he had asked my grandmother to give him a few pictures of the Tzar to print with the recipes. She had refused, indignant, outraged.
"THe Tzar is not for cookbooks!"

So he asked me to paint instead. THe symbolic, stylised flowers winding themselves up the corners of paper, blooming above soups and entrees. Characters of tale and legend disperesed among main courses and deserts. My aunt sniffs at the notion but I do not mind. THere is something beautiful about painting, about any act of creation when done from the right heartstate, the right state of mind. A moment of love captured on a page. Being greater than oneself for a nanosecond, prserved like a fly in amber, in time.

And who knwos, perhaps it will even work. Perhaps as he hopes, if, when, it is published, people leafing through it will think or feel that they are eating fairytales, or history.


deep sky, firefly

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