Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stitchings of the Past- Dasha Shleyeva - Assignment 4

(In this picture, I am holding Borsch that I made yesterday using Baba Anya's recipe.)

This is a two piece reflection and homage to one of my childhood role models in the rural Moscow or "Podmoskovye", in the town of Domodedovo. The woman with whom I spent a lot of my childhood, Anna Petrovna, or as I called her Baba Anya, was an amazing grandmother, aunt, and mother figure to me at different times in my life when my own mother wasn't, and since my grandmother, Ludmila, or Baba Luda, passed away when my mother was four years old, I never had a grandmother in my life. She was my great aunt by technical relation, but she ws so much more in many ways. She was a widow and a very strong, amazing woman. In fact, she is probably outside, as I type this, in her garden, building a new fence or pulling weeds or doing something a 76 year old woman should not be doing. She has taught me fortitude, perseverence and extreme strength and patience in hard times and I will forever love her no matter how stubborn she can be at times.

This first part was supposed to be a reflection of things that she has taught me:
Cooking and Gardening. I wanted to make an apron out of the skirt she gave me last time I visited her in Russia but the skirt got lost in the move recently and I was unable to locate it. This apron is still an homage to her and a reminder for me to not forget my tradition and to continue to cook our traditional recipes for our friends and family here, passed down in our family over the many years. In Russia it has always been a big, cultural aspect to not leave the table hungry. In fact, it's extreme overcompensation that still hangs in the air, brought out in my relatives' constant nagging questions of, "Are you hungry still? Do you want more soup? More Fish? No more soup? Then have more salad! No more salad? Then more potatoes!" And it goes on and on. It's literally such an "insatiable" concept at the table that it makes you laugh. As for the gardening thing, I want to continue gardening the vegetables I remember helping plant as a child back in Domodedovo in our new yard in Southeast Portland. Potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, dill, squash, strawberries, raspberries, dill, onions, and on and on. (Maybe even chickens some day! )

This is Baba Anya with her giant cat, Murzik

The Full Frontal

The second part was to finish a song that was inspired by Baba Anya about old age and a reflection on the ebb and flow of life. At the time that I started writing it, last spring, the flowers had just started to bloom, like they are now on the cherry blossoms and it made me think of the bloom and fade of life itself and how it can still be beautiful even though it is sad in many ways. I thought about how Baba Anya once asked me to sew a dress for her out of a certain fabric, so that it would be the dress she would be buried in. I thought it was the most absurd, sad, terrible thing to say to an eight year old. When I look at it now, I realize she was just showing that she wasn't afraid of death, it was a fact of life, and she was making light of a heavy subject. I deeply respect the ability to come that far in accepting our inevitable fate.

So my friend Ashley King and I collaborated together to create a Violin and Guitar piece which we will perform live. (I will also post an edited and finalized mp3 later)

I must say, the process of this assignment really was amazing and I loved all the background that went into it. I would definitely do it again.

1 comment:

  1. Dasha! could you email me your grandma's recipes? I would love to give them a try.