Dec 13 2017

Ode To 2049


“I was the smudge of ashen fluff — and I
Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky”

Aida Gradina Self Portrait

Aida Gradina Self Potrait

Oh, hey movie recommendation for ya (if you haven’t figured it out yet)
Blade Runner 2049 (if it didn’t exist neither would these self-portraits) yeah!

Jun 2 2016

Only Lovers Left Alive


“To imagine falling in love as a correspondence of minds, of toughts; it is a simultaneous firing of two spirits engaged in the autonomous act of growing up. And the sensation is of something having noiselessly exploded inside each of them. Around this event, dazed and preoccupied, the lover moves examining his or her own experience; her gratitude alone, stretching away towards a mistaken donor, creates the illusion that she communicates with her fellow, but this is false. The loved object is simply one that has shared an experience at the same moment of time, narcissistically; and the desire to be near the beloved object is at first not due to the idea of possessing it, but simply to let the two experiences compare themselves, like reflections in different mirrors. All this may precede the first look, kiss, or touch; precede ambition, pride or envy; precede the first declarations which mark the turning point – for from here love degenerates into habit, possession, and back to loneliness.”

- Justine by Lawrence Durrell

Aida Gradina Photography

Aida Gradina Photography

Aida Gradina Photography

Aida Gradina Photography

Aida Gradina Photography

Aida Gradina Photography

Jun 11 2015

He Was Pointing At The Moon, But I Was Looking At His Hand


I have always been in love, my whole life, since I was a child I am sure. Even when I did not love a sepcific person I was still in love with love. And it pained me and created a hopeless romantic out of me, but it also created a dark side I can no longer shake off. I have learned to hide it so well that sometimes even I forget it exists. I realize now I am in love with this darkness. I love how it looms over me, hovers, and despises me. It is comforting, and familiar in a lot of my photography. Art is tragic, and I think you need to be strong to overcome the isolation and the darkness of it all because you are the darkness and it is your heart you are painting or versing or photographing, always. Beauty becomes accompanied by a saddness, a sort of nostalgia, I don’t really know what…
All I know is that it all makes me happy, and sad because I miss him, and I wish I could talk to him after all these years because he was dark and beautiful and I was always looking at his hands.

Aida Gradina Photography
(“Melancholia” series, my friend Rose taken at the Rose garden)

Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, “I am falling to the floor crying,” but there’s an element of the ridiculous to it — you knew it would happen and, even worse, while you’re on the floor crying you look at the place where the wall meets the floor and you realize you didn’t paint it very well.
- Richard Siken (includes title of post)

And speaking of all that’s dark here are a few films, my dear reader, I promised to recommend every now and then for your viewing pleasure

1992 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me – David Lynch
1999 Eyes Wide Shut – Stanley Kubrick
2011 Melancholia – Lars Von Trier
2013 Nymphomaniac – Lars Von Trier
2013 Young and Beautiful – François Ozon
2014 Lost River – Ryan Gosling

Jan 20 2015

Best Buds


Read a quote by Mark Twain a while back and it brought me much perspective, then stumbled upon a couple of images I really liked.
Respect to these two fellas whose genius was legendary.

“The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation.”

Mr. Mark Twain in Tesla's lab.
Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla in Tesla’s laboratory, 1895

Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla in his laboratory, 1899
(I love the composition and perspective of this photograph)

Nov 21 2014

Ghost Writer


I have, what I like to call, a “writing desk”. This is where I keep a few books, journals, and my computer.
My computer screen cracked recently, I broke it. Everytime I open the lid and turn the bright screen monolith on I cringe, which leads to tears. I need a new computer.
I like to use this as my excuse for not photographing. I tell my freinds I’m taking a break from photography, and as they give me puzzled glances I hastly explain how now and then we all need a break to compose ourselves and to produce great art. It’s a good one, I know.
Truth is, I couldn’t do it anymore. And without ‘it’ I realized I couldn’t function at all.

The worst thing is not feeling like yourself, and realizing you miss yourself.
I only hope my parents can forgive me for hating myself these past few weeks, because I love them so much, and everyday that love continues to grow.

This writing desk of mine has brought me much pleasure. It is the first piece of furniture I bought after two years of living without the parents. This desk encouraged a bookshelf (one that I was very much against, for I would have rather bought more books than have spent money on a shelf to house them properly). It also gave way to a little wooden side table which fits so perfectly in the corner of this emotional chaos and keeps seven books afloat beaneath a lucky bamboo.

Sometimes I sit on my unusually tall bed and stare right across into the bindings of old (some first edition) novels I’ve aquired over the years. Looking at them, I feel overwhelmed for I haven’t even touched upon a Melville or heard the bells toll, but mostly I feel a kick of desire, a spring in my step, to reach forward and grab that Hemmingway.

I have been dedicating my time to books, more so than usual, not the ones on my shelf for they will always remain waiting proudly for me, but the ones in libraries, libraries which still exist in the midst of all of this ebook technology, libraries which have always made me feel at home, libraries which have finally encouraged me to read my first Austin and leave this century behind.

After nights spent in avoidance of photography, I sat at my writing desk and filled a journal of inevitable regrets, which somehow, magically led to the thing I love and have missed the most.

I dedicate this post, this photo, this time to books, literal, incredibly scented old books!

Aida Gradina Photography

Oct 7 2014

Love Of My Life


Phone photo, Steinbeck (all that’s good in this world)

John Steinbeck, books, hydrangeas

John Steinbeck, books, hydrangeas

May 28 2014

I’m Only Happy When It Rains


Solipsism (from Latin solus, meaning “alone”, and ipse, meaning “self”) is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one’s own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known, and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist.”

I know it’s not even summer, but for photography purposes only, I really miss the rain and the dreariness that comes along with it.

Apr 30 2014

One Art


The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

(One Art by Elizabeth Bishop)

Feb 6 2014



Wednesday. Winter.

There are great moments in ones life.
Words from my mother and everyone’s feet scurrying quickly to escape the oh so harsh winter Vancouverites faced today encouraged me to close the windows, forget modern civilization, and embrace the book before me, “The Diaries Of Sofia Tolstoy”, a book which now proudly resides by my side.
Forgive me for I am excited to share a few words, words which warmed the core of my heart and inspired me to write in my journal without the emotional highs and lows but with a humble contentedness.

“‘Try to read what I’ll write.’
‘Very well,’ said I.
‘But I shall only write the initials.’
‘How’s that? But that’ll be impossible! Well, go on!’
Lev Nikolaevich brushed the game scores off the card-table, and, taking a bit of chalk, began to write. We were both very solemn and excited. I watched his large red hand, and felt how all my thoughts and feelings were concentrated on the piece of chalk and on the hand that was holding it. We were both silent.
- What the chalk wrote:
‘Your youth and your desire for happiness remind me too vividly of my old age and of my incapacity for happiness,’ I read out.
My heart began to throb violently, my face was flushed, and I seemed to have suddenly lost all sense of time and reality; I felt as though at that moment I could grasp everything, conceive the inconceivable.”

And the reasoning behind all of this excitement is that this event which took place between Tolstoy and his wife before they married was portrayed through Levin and Kitty in Anna Karenina 15 years later.

Nov 19 2013

Now Close The Windows


Close the windows and not hear the wind,
But see all wind-stirred.

Sep 25 2013

Found Art and Found Books


Here’s some found art I very much admire.
And for anyone who loves books and lives in Vancouver there’s a Book Fair happening downtown at the UBC Robson Square on Saturday and Sunday.
Check it out!
Also, Vancouver International Film Festival begins tomorrow and The Vancouver Writers Festival starts next month.

Marianne von Werefkin

Sep 10 2013

Troubles of the World


There’s a library in Vancouver which sells donated books for fifty cents. I go there very often and now stand amazed at the books I have collected. The most cherished novel I found there was “The Winter of Our Discontent” by John Steinbeck (First Edition!) I quickly snatched it for I was overcome with excitement and fear that someone might take it from me…there was no one around. And it’s a little bit silly because I never heard of “The Winter of Our Discontent” but I had to have it for Steinbeck’s words are worth more than gold. I read the book not too long ago and I still cannot stop thinking about it.
But today, out of the four I purchased, a book which has excited me so is called “Farming: A Hand Book” by Wendell Berry. It is a book of poetry written by a Farmer (among many other things) who is close to the heart of land.
I picked it up for various reasons, one being the fact that I do not know anything about living off of the land yet is my goal to do so one day. I thought perhaps I could learn something, but for a young heart this is more than I could have ever hoped for.

The Morning’s News

To moralize the state, they drag out a man,
and bind his hands, and darken his eyes
with a black rag to be free of the light in them,
and tie him to a post, and kill him.
And I am sickened by the complicity in my race.
To kill in hot savagery like a beast
is understandable. It is forgivable and curable.
But to kill by design, deliberately, without wrath,
that is the sullen labor that perfects Hell.
The serpent is gentle, compared to man.
It is man, the inventor of cold violence,
death as waste, who has made himself lonely
among the creatures, and set himself aside,
so that he cannot work in the sun with hope,
or sit at peace in the shade of any tree.
The morning’s news drives sleep out of the head
at night. Uselessness and horror hold the eyes
open to the dark. Weary, we lie awake
in the agony of the old giving birth to the new
without assurance that the new will be better.
I look at my son, whose eyes are like a young god’s,
they are so open to the world.
I look at my sloping fields now turning
green with the young grass of April. What must I do
to go free? I think I must put on
a deathlier knowledge, and prepare to die
rather than enter into the design of man’s hate.
I will purge my mind of the airy claims
of church and state. I will serve the earth
and not pretend my life could better serve.
Another morning comes with its strange cure.
The earth is news. Though the river floods
And the spring is cold, my heart goes on,
faithful to a mystery in a cloud,
and the summer’s garden continues its descent
through me, toward the ground.

- Wendell Berry, Farming: A Hand Book (1968-1970)

Sep 4 2013

And Vexes Me For Reason Why


My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walked the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

Robert Frost

Aug 23 2013

Photographer’s Block


Jun 16 2013

I Wonder How Many People I’ve Looked At All My Life And Never Seen


…If I’ve missed this, what else have I failed to see?

words: John Steinbeck (Winter Of Our Discontent)
girl: Rose

Jun 14 2013

Some Poetry


“Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupation,
That is know as the children’s hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes,
They are plotting and planning together,
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me,
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all?

I have you fast in my fortress
And will not let you depart,
But put you down in the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!”

“The Children’s Hour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Jun 2 2013

Poppy, Poetry, Steinbeck


“A strange and seeing time, the front steps of sleep.”
- Steinbeck (The Winter of Our Discontent)

“I have seen from my window
The fiesta of sunset in the distant mountaintops.
Sometimes a piece of sun
Burned like a coin between my hands.
I remembered you with my soul clenched
In that sadness of mine that you know.
Always, always you recede through the evenings
Towards where the twilight goes erasing statues”

- Pablo Neruda (from “Twenty Love Poems”, X)

May 20 2013

Flora Of North America


Images from “Flora Of North America” by William P.C. Barton (1821).

Barton paid particular attention to native orchids, many of which are threatened today. In his description of the ladyslipper orchid (Cypripedium humile), he notes the plant’s fragility:

“It is a favorite flower, from the circumstance of its continuing to bloom a long time. It does not, however, bear the soil or atmosphere of common gardens… I have repeatedly attempted to cultivate it, but have never had a plant to bloom a second season.”

Apr 30 2013

But It’s Just That This World Is So Beautiful


The window sill changes too

The world outside continues without you

But it’s just that this world is so sad

“There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

(T.S. Eliot – The Hollow Men)

Mar 31 2013

Deep In Thought, A Moment Ago


“It has always seemed strange to me, the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”
— John Steinbeck, Cannery Row