Letters Home from Bulgaria …


Finnish photographer : Kai Fagerstrom

I wait ( not knowing for what ) under blankets all day long and into the nights , like an abandoned house with broken windows and strange creatures roaming about . I am depressed . ( first time in my life )  Our Lady of Perpetual Tears stands over in the corner where my  unfinished paintings hang …” Live and die on this day , live and die “. I think of my dad . There was a huge and mighty earthquake near here in Chirpan the very day and year he was born . The day he died he gazed at the sky , ” Isn’t it beautiful ” ! He asked for water and I ponder now that this was the first word Helen Keller spoke …water .


Aela Labbe photography

Struggling to climb from underneath feelings of loneliness , regret and fear ,I am in a cave underneath the dull sound of cars moving nonstop above on a city street … like the pale little vagrant soul of Emperor Hadrians tale who ” dwells below in pallid places stark and bare ” . Fables and myths of lore sink in my mind with no creative expression like a heavy anchor weighing down the colors of my paintbox and the sketch book remains blank .  I doubt my purpose and wonder why I am even here in this foreign land . What have I done… I don’t know what can come of it ? I don’t know why this has happened .


Ellen Rogers photography

Back home my basement is under 5 inches of water with no flood insurance . I am a mess over it and stay motionless under a hooded cloak . I hear my name being called at the gate and don’t want to go out …. but it doesn’t stop, only becomes louder . There stands a mother , her daughter with toes sticking out from worn out shoes , and a baby . Like a plant that slumbers in the night , I can feel light luring here , but it is dim . And then … looking at their tired faces and shabby clothing , I know they have been sent here as a gift from heavens throne room . How foolish and filled with ego I am…thinking I won’t have enough money and feeling sorry for myself this whole week over a basement !  The teenage mothers face appears , a smile , a miracle smile that can bring the taste of honey to a stale and dry slice of wheat toast . How is it that we smile , what is it ? It is everything to me at that moment … it scares the depression away .


That afternoon , finally feeling hungry , I walk to the weekly pazar in my village . Choosing fruits and vegetables  and ready to pay I realize my coin purse is not in my pocket . With a chorus of crescendo and worry on their faces everyone in line begins searching on the ground with me . Down the path a little girl comes running with a spark of bright color in her hands … My dropped little bag of money . Smiles , smiles from everyone , a language beyond any borders . My ego , let it go on it’s way now …love ….live and die on this day, live and die .


Four months of not speaking or hearing English has brought about an evolution as in hearing other things now and speaking secret words to myself . ( I wonder if the loneliness from this began my fall into depression ) . Sigur Ros is one of the worlds shyest and least understood bands linked intimately to the glacial majesty, fire and ice of their homeland , Iceland . It is the most beautiful , emotional music I have ever found with Jonsi playing the guitar with a violin bow and singing with falsetto vocals . Many songs are sung in Icelandic  and many in a strange non literal language , a made-up language that focuses entirely on sounds of language with no grammar or meaning or even distinct words . The music is atmospheric reflecting their country .


Bulgaria … The Sheepherder


what a beautiful mess

a place

where music

comes from the mud .

a place

where sun collects bones ,

stark white .

a place


by legends luring .



sticks to his feet .

he won’t abandon .

the music singing

an ethereal voice

to the newborn lambs

one black

one white .

this place , this land .


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