July 31, 2009

Flashback Friday: "Better The Devil You Know."

I grew up with Kylie and I am still a fan to this very day. I love everything she has ever made. I love the way she has re-invented herself over the years, without scandals and without "eyebrow raising" behavior. I look at her as some sort of "musical" twin, if you will, considering she is my age.

Today, after she did overcome grave illness, Kylie is still as beautiful, talented and inspiring as I remember her from my teens. Her music holds sentimental and emotional ties to my youth and she connects my past and my present like no other artist.

I loved the bubble gum sugar sweet pop by Stock Aitken Waterman, that she did in her early twenties. As she was turning into a woman, suddenly the sweet image was gone and the video below was released in 1990, showing her as a more sensual young woman than a girl next door, which we all knew and loved from the long running show "Neighbors". Nevertheless, it still contained playful undertones and innocent freshness of youth. As I too was becoming an adult at that time, this song was constantly being replayed on my tape-recorder.

At times I wish I was back in that moment, when everything was just about to begin...

July 30, 2009

"Cinderella".

A few years back, I invited my neighbours over for a glass of vine. They are my favourite neighbours and "surrogate parents" to Batcat, taking care of him when I am on vacation.
In Denmark it is custom to always bring something with you for the hostess. Whether it is a bottle of vine, a cake or a bouquet of flowers. It really doesn't have to be much, as long as you do not show up empty handed.

On this occasion I received a very interesting gift. It was a plant that was growing out of a glass container. A vase, if you will, but it was no ordinary vase in that respect that the vase was the actual pot, containing the soil with the root of the flower. I say flower, as it is suppose to be flowering with pretty pink flowers. However, it has never flowered for me. But as much as it doesn’t flower it sure does grow. When I got it about three years ago the plant was barely reaching the end of the glass pot. I have not seen plants like that before nor since and I immediately took liking to this "Cinderella Plant", as I ended up calling it. I have no idea what plant it actually is.
It always struck me that it looked as if it was growing our of a glass slipper.

July 29, 2009

Taking It Slow...

Last week we received large amounts of rain. It has been raining almost non-stop for days. Particularly last Saturday was unusual in the fact that it was very wet, but also very warm. The rain felt almost tropical, which I do not recognize this far up north.

I am not sure if it is only in my mind, but nature is changing. The climate today is not that which I recall from my childhood. We experience a much more severe weather when it comes to rain and wind and temperatures as well. On many occasions, there are also articles in the newspapers about sightings of species of animals that are not common at these latitudes. Insects that usually live in warm climate are often seen here. Just the other day I read about a cicada sighting, an insect that is absolutely not native to Scandinavia.

I myself made a little unusual discovery on that particular wet Saturday. The rain brought out snails; we always have large amount of these. Mostly slugs, the black and even the red "killer" slugs that consume everything in their way and are a nuisance to every gardener.
On my terrace I could see an unusually large snail (of the edible kind, I believe;), one that I have never seen there before. As seen on the picture for comparison, our Scandinavian snails are much smaller. The large one is very common in central Europe, but I have never seen it here before.

Even though snails are savages when it comes to flower beds and vegetables gardens, I still like them. I like to watch them and their slow-motion moves, and at times their relentlessness on getting where they are going and not giving up until they reach the destination. No matter how long it takes.
Their perseverance and a way of "taking it slow" are so contagious. At least I think so.

video

July 28, 2009

Tranquility By The Sea.

I was born under the Tatra Mountains in the heart of Europe. Therefore, during my childhood, the sight of a large body of water was an unusual one.

The word "sea" brought at all times exotic pictures of far away lands to my mind. We did travel to the Mediterranean when I was small, or rather to the Adriatic Sea. The most intense moment of all, on those trips, was when we drove around the final bend and could feast our eyes on the endless alloy of sapphire blue and emerald green waters of the warm, tropical sea, lined only by the misty horizon.

Upon our immigration to Sweden, the sight of the ocean became a common one. We lived in a port city on the west shores of the Baltic Sea. This ocean has very little resemblance with the calm waters of the Mediterranean; at times azure blue, it is pristine, but wild and free. Predominantly the colour of steel, it invokes respect and awe. We lived in close proximity of a strait and I could hear fog horns late in the night, when I sat hunched over school books, or early in the morning, when the whole city lay still.

When I lived inland in North Carolina, I missed the sea. After a decade of seeing it almost every day, I found the endless land oppressive and I longed for the carefree feeling, which gazing at the open waters will offer at all times.

I love everything about the ocean; I love the fact that it is different every single day. Its colours and moods change with the seasons and even with the weather. The clarity of the air above and around it varies as well, offering almost a mirage-like sight of rocky islands and freighter ships, which seem to be almost within a reach on a clear day, just to become invisible when enveloped by heavy mist or fog on the next.
Still, even now, I take the longer drive to work, only to be able to see the ocean every day.

This past Sunday, I took a walk on a nearby beach with my parents. I do visit this particular spot frequently, mostly during the summer months. However, I have rarely seen the ocean of the colour captured on the pictures and the movie clip below. The clouds in the sky gave the sea an almost tropical feel. The beach was deserted and tranquil, as if secluded in a lonely bay, on a forgotten island in the tropics. The lack of easterly winds made the waters lay still, with an occasional wave hitting the shore, creating a harmony in sound and sight.

It was one of these rare, memorable experiences - all I wanted was for that moment in time to last forever.




video

July 27, 2009

Solar Eclipse.

There was a total solar eclipse last Wednesday almost all over the Asian continent. I am trying to picture what experiencing such an event must feel like.
I often wonder, whether it really becomes dark. And what kind of dark it is. Is it twilight, dusk or complete darkness. From some of the photographs that were published by the online news media, it seems that in some places, the city lights were turned on and to me it appeared like night and not mid morning.

I too often envision what it must have felt like in ancient times, when mankind was not aware of this natural phenomenon. This celestial show must have been considered to be a divine sign, foretelling the future or being an omen of some sorts, not always a good one. Linked to the mystical and heavily surrounded by superstition, the eclipse for the primitive man must have been a sight that supported a belief in the magical and unknown.

I have never been lucky enough to witness a total solar eclipse. There have been a few partial ones over Denmark over the years. Even though not as spectacular, as the ones leaving an imprint of a diamond ring on a film, they were still a sight out of this world. I did managed to capture a few good images during a partial eclipse which could be observed in Scandinavia in August last year.

Unfortunately, I live in the part of the world that very rarely sees a full solar eclipse. Next time one will occur here here will be on the 25th of May in 2142.
Somehow I seriously doubt that I will be around to experience it.

July 26, 2009

Last Sunday In July.

Yesterday my parents arrived for a two weeks stay. I am delighted to get a chance to spend an extended time with them. As my loved ones are spread all over Europe, it is always a treat when any of them comes for a visit.

The weather continues to be awful, although the sun has come up and is trying to defy the clouds occasionally.
It is my mothers birthday today and I guess the Weather Gods have taken pity on her. She, if anyone, deserves sunshine. Plenty of it.

Below is my weekly clematis update. I think this update is about to conclude, I am afraid. The rain has slowed down the progress and the blooming is about to peak.
There are still a few unopened buds, so perhaps there is one more final update in store comes next Sunday.
Last week I cut down the Lemon Balm that has been over growing its pot for weeks now, which has cleared some of the clematis view. The Lemon Balm is a wonderful herb, spreading citrus scent when touched. It grows very fast and very easily and is perfect as a decoration in a sparkling wine summer drink or on top of ice cream.

Due to my visitors, my responses to your lovely comments might be somewhat delayed for the next two weeks; as will be my visits to your lovely blogs. I will definitely continue posting, but forgive me if it takes me some time to get back to all of you.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful last Sunday in July.

(PS: The top picture features a magenta coloured Dahlia, a little treat for sallymandy)

July 25, 2009

Magma Stone.

I am really having a difficult time accepting that we are loosing light. Every passing day gets shorter, loosing more minutes to the night. It is unbelievable that already now we get one hour less daylight than a month ago.

However, that is the yearly cycle up here in Scandinavia and a natural way of things. I guess I am feeling the loss a bit more intensely this year, due to the absolutely horrid weather we are having. July has been terrible weatherwise; a total disappointment. We have received a lot of rain lately. Too much at this point and my flowers are not happy anymore. They need water but they also need the vital sunlight; without it they look sad and lifeless. They loose colour and become soggy and slowly wither away. Or rot away would be a better description.

There is one positive factor though, which makes up for the dark and rain. The early evenings bring back the candle light.
Yes, I love candles and I burn through hundreds of them in the winter season. In the summer most of them are forgotten in drawers and cabinets, but slowly, the need for them starts to return.

Yesterday evening I lit for the first time in several months a few candles here and there around the house. Among others, my "Magma Stone". A very unusual and so very intriguing candleholder, which I received from the students in the lab, when I turned forty a few years ago. A lovely gift and frequently in use in my white house on the hill.
Strikingly Scandinavian, its design is rugged and pristine, carved in a form of hollow lava stone, made out of dark clay with coloured (orange or yellow) inside. When the candle is placed inside the stone and lit, the stone resembles magma.

I have placed it high up in my kitchen, which is open and connected to my living room. When it gets dark, the stone glows orange and spreads a warm, almost magical light.

July 24, 2009

"Flashback Friday".

Inspired by my own Friday posts in the last two weeks, I have decided for a new Friday theme for my blog. I am calling it "Flashback Friday".

Every Friday I am planning on taking you back in time to music that has captured my heart over the years; whether it is the videos, the lyrics, the music or the time that it represents. I love taking sentimental walks down the memory lane and music plays indeed a very important part in my life and has in my past.

I hope that some of the pieces might speak to some of you at one point or another, perhaps reminding you of times gone by. Or that you just might, perhaps if only occasionally, enjoy the music.

Let me start off this new theme with an absolute favorite of mine. Although I vaguely remember the 70's original made by Johnny Bristol, the remake by Curiosity Killed the Cat in the early 90's is a version that was a great hit around the time when I was relocating to the US. It defines the part of my life that brought on changes of a personal and professional nature, which would have long term effects on my life.

Happy Friday everyone.

Update by author: Since this post was published, a few months later the video in question was no longer available for sharing. But, the original version became available in a high quality recording; enjoy.

July 23, 2009

Honest Scrap And Two Awards.

All of you, my blog friends are so very kind to me and you keep passing onto me these lovely awards. I am really sorry that I never seem to get around to actually acknowledge you all and to tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you feel I deserve all this attention.
I think I would have to go back months and months now to thank you all and I seriously doubt any of you would even remember the occasion.

With that said, you should know that I display all the awards proudly on my sidebar, even though I do not always thank you officially.

I decided to pass on two awards and one award tag to only those who I never given awards to before; even though I wish I could pass on all the award to EVERYONE.


The first one, "One Lovely Bog Award" I received from the very lovely Shelly and I pass it over to Jeanne at Tales From A Cottage Garden, just for the simple reason that her blog is very lovely.

Most recently the very talented Kat awarded me a very beautiful award, called "I Love Your Blog Dahling!" I think that is such a fancy looking little thing, I immediately though of one person who should receive it. I am passing it on therefore to the very beautiful Evi from Absolutely Ladylike, as I really love her blog and she is a dahling.

Last week I was tagged with an "Honest Scrap" award by Sprinkles, (whose blog I hope to get to know better soon). This gift comes with a meme attached. And you know me, I love tags.
The tags prompts me to list 10 honest things about me and then pass this tag onto 5 people. I am often reluctant to actually tagg people as some of you might not like it so much, but I am taking a chance with this one, considering it comes with an award.

My choice are (I am choosing eight instead of five):

Jill
Stevie
Claus
Poetikat
Shelly
Reasons To Be Cheerful...
Sallymandy
Jacki

I hope you will accept.

It is completely fine with me if you only accept the award, without doing the tag.

Here are 10 absolutely true things about me:

1. I have been to the hair dresser about four times in my entire life and hated the outcome every time. I cut my hair very seldom, in fact the last time I had my hair cut must be over three years ago.

2. I live in one country, but I hold a passport from (and am a citizen of) another country, but that is not the country where I was born. Hehe, that is a bit of brain exercise for you.

3. I have a piece of glass embedded in my left knee. It has been there since my childhood when I fell on a broken glass while running.

4. I have participated, together with my cousin as an extra in a Czech movie as a child. The filming took a whole day and we made 50 Czech crowns (equals about $2 today), which was quiet a lot for a 11 year old at that time. However, my cousin told me later that the scene was cut out of the movie.

5. Before I got my driving license, well, before I even sat behind a wheel of a car, I knew how to drive a tractor. I kid you not. For two weeks one autumn I worked on a farm in Sweden. I was 14 and I drove a tractor across the fields with a trailer attached to it, complete with a conveyor belt, while the men from the farm were harvesting vegetables. I have a strong feeling that this was anything but legal.

6. When I was thirteen years old, I piloted a large, commercial ferry. Well, for a minute at least. While emigrating to the west with my parents, I traveled for the duration of two days aboard a ferry between Germany and Finland. There was a tour of the boat and the bridge and the captain allowed me to steer the boat for a little while.

7. I have once skipped paying a bill at a restaurant. Terrible but true and I feel ashamed to admit this. I was young and dumb. I and about ten of my equally dumb friends did run away without paying. However, we were what you might call "stupid criminals", as we have booked the table in one of the friends name and left a telephone number as well. The restaurant called this friend the next day and asked kindly to have its money. Do'h.

8. I hate roller coasters. I have absolutely no idea why people find these amusing; to me they seem dangerous and quiet scary, to be frank.

9. I have had my ears pierced since I was about a month old. That was a normal tradition in my culture; all the newborn girls had their ears pierced and were given golden earrings as a gift.

10. I have walked down the Grand Canyon, all the way to the Colorado River and up again, in one day, in the winter time (I think it was late February). On the way back we walked by flash light. One of the more scarier of my experiences. But worth every minute.

July 22, 2009

Cross-Stitch Art.

I am not at all good at sewing clothes. Although I think I could be, considering that like to be creative and I love fashion. The idea of designing and making my own clothes has always appealed to me, however, I never found myself in the position to be able to do so. Many of you who visit here are very talented in this respect and I have seen countless examples of wonderful attires that you have made.

So why don't I make my own clothes? Mostly, it is the lack of time, lack of a reliable sewing machine (and they are VERY expensive) and lack of practice.
As a teenager, I did attend sewing classes in school and I remember liking them a lot. I successfully created a few items of clothing which I did actually enjoy to wear.

When I moved into my first apartment, I did have an old sewing machine which I used to shorten my skirts and pants with. As a rule though, the machine would tear up my clothes instead of fixing them and I spend hours untangling messed up thread and eventually developed a dislike for the thing and stopped using it altogether.

The other day I was looking for something in a cabinet in the guest room and found my old cross-stitch embroidery of two different rose-hip flowers, which I did during the school sewing classes. It resulted in two small framed artworks, that used to hang in my parents house. It brought back memories of how much I actually liked to create wonderful things with my hands.

I am not the only member of my family that enjoy to cross-stitch. My aunt does make an array of pictures, beautiful painting-like artworks, which she gives away as presents to friends and family. I have been a lucky receiver of one such picture, that now hangs just above the stairs to my bedroom. It depicts a wonderful, serene spot covered with flowers, on a terrace somewhere in a warm climate. Looking at it is always very pleasing to all my senses.

July 21, 2009

Busy Bumblebees.

I love bumblebees. I think they are the most adorable insects. I love everything about them from the colouring, the very loud sound they make and the fact that they seem to be so very hard at work at all times. Their little bodies are covered in what seems long hair, making them look furry and fuzzy and in contrast to bees, inviting to stroke.
In June, the season for bumblebees usually peaks in my garden, most likely as that is when most of my flowers are in bloom. The whole terrace is buzzing with these little creatures, hard at work, as soon as the place is drenched in sun. This year June was very warm and unusually sunny, making most of my plants bloom ahead of time and simultaneously. I managed to capture the busy bumblebees when they visited my garden about a month ago.



video

July 20, 2009

Apollo 11.

I guess I am one of many out there that will dedicate a post the Apollo 11 mission today. Forty years ago, the world sat mesmerized in front of the TV sets, watching with fascination as a man took the first steps across the lunar surface. That famous sentence; "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind", was uttered by Neil Armstrong, as he performed the first moon walk ever.

This moon landing was part of the Apollo Program, more precisely Apollo 11. Launched on July 16, 1969, it carried Mission Commander Neil Alden Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Eugene 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr.

On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon, while Collins orbited above.

I am completely in awe of this achievement. I think this mostly due to the fact that it was an incredible operation performed with detailed precision, with absolutely moderate technology. So many steps and all of them had to work, yet with very primitive instruments, at least seen through the eyes of modern technology. In fact, the Apollo rocket is considered so successful, that a new spacecraft is being developed by NASA, based on this technology. Called Orion, it is under development and is destined for a new moon landing within the next 20 years, most likely with the goal to colonize the Moon.
This means that the Space Shuttles Program (Space Transportation System (STS)) is about to retire. The reusable spacecrafts have proven far less economical than originally assumed and will hereby fly on their last mission next year.

July 19, 2009

After The Rain...

It has cooled down considerably. Yesterdays rain was almost tropical, as the air was unusually warm. The weather reminded me of exotic islands close to the equator that I have visited in the past.

Today however we are back to the breezy, cool, partly sunny summer, that is so common at these latitudes. It makes for great outdoor activities but is not very suitable for the sun-worshipers, such as myself. Instead of spending hours on the terrace, today might be a perfect day for gardening. I already visited Bauhaus, a large retailer of home improvement and construction products, similar to the American "Home Depot". They had sales on gardening products and I purchased several new solar lamps. Among others I bought this cute terracotta solar lantern. Powered by solar energy, it has a rechargeable battery and when it gets dark, the light inside will flicker, simulating a real candle. I cannot wait to see it alight.

My Jackmanii clematis is doing very well. Yesterdays rain was highly beneficial. No matter how much I water my plants, the vital summer rain has no comparison. It is now about half way into its flowering period and within a couple of weeks, it will reach it's blooming peak.

July 18, 2009

Rhapsody In Rain.

video

July 17, 2009

Sunshine Reggae.

Considering that this is truly the middle of the summer, let me take you back to my teens today and to a tune that almost defined summer in Europe in the early 80's. Titled "Sunshine Reggae" it is performed by a Danish group called Laid Back and was their biggest international hit ever.
I recall it streaming from the radio very vividly back in the summer of 1983, when I boarded a plane for the first time in my life to spend a week in Italy with my parents. It was our first vacation outside Sweden since our emigration to the west.

The video is extremely bad, the English very clunky (and pronounced with a very heavy Danish accent) and the overall feel to it, including the fashion, is so very 80's, it is almost a joke.
Nevertheless, still today it is considered one of the most popular summer songs ever made - and I think I have to agree on that one fact.

Hope you enjoy the music and the best time of the year that it represents. Happy Friday everyone!

July 16, 2009

In Denial.

I am with a strong reluctance realizing that we have reached the summers peak. The second summer month is half way gone and even though I have not even considered giving autumn a thought, it is not possible to avoid with all the fashion catalogues that keep dropping down into my mailbox.
All my favorite on-line stores are having big summer sales and the autumn fashion is already being presented on their front pages.

It was not long time ago at all that I was sitting and looking through all the summer fashion in January; but somehow that felt so much more exciting.
I can not believe that anyone out there seriously thinks about autumn attire yet! Often I do not touch the magazines until at least September, but this weekend I decided to actually look through them, despite the overwhelming feeling of denial. (Did you know that denial is a Freudian term?)

I liked what I saw and much of it actually pleased me. However, in contrast to January, when I spend a whole weekend ordering summer clothes as soon as the magazines arrived while I dreamed of summer, this time the new catalogues were thrown under a pile of summer fashion reading, to be forgotten at least until the end of August.

July 15, 2009

The Faust House.

This past weekend, partially due to the somewhat bad weather, I finally found the time to sort through my vacation pictures. Even though today everyone uses digital images and saves or presents their vacation shots on DVDs or by playing those in computer presentations, I still make prints out of my favorite photographs. I do still buy and use photo albums, as I find nothing can really replace the feeling one gets from looking at a print.

Making a short jump back to the days I spend in Prague recently, some of the pictures depict a house that is most likely the most famous one in the whole city. It is so called "Faust House", or in Czech "Faustův Dům".

According to the city legends, doctor Faust or Faustus once lived here. He made a pact with the Devil in exchange for knowledge and disappeared without a trace. All that was left was a big hole in the roof of the house library.
The house stood empty for a long time, decaying, considered haunted, until a poor student decided to move in, when he found himself cold, hungry and without a shelter. "The house" treated the student well and every day he found a silver coin on the table. His fear of the house library room slowly diminished. He covered the hole in the roof and started to read all the books, which were filled with mystical text and magical spells. Very soon he felt at ease and brave enough to invite over friends and live a life where the silver coin was not enough anymore. The greed took over the student, upon which he turned to black magic spells described in the books and then one day, he too vanished without a trace. All he left behind was a big, blackened hole in the roof of the library, just like Faust did before him.

I remember reading this story in my favorite book of Prague tales as a child. The house has most likely never had doctor Faust as an occupant (or did it?), but it remains shrouded in mystery due to the variety of its eccentric inhabitants.

In the 14th century this baroque mansion was owned by Prince Vaclav of Opava, who was the first to give rise to the association of the Faustian legend due to his avid interest in alchemy.
Among other odd occupants of the Faust house was the famous alchemists Edward Kelley, Court Alchemist to Rudolph II, who was believed to use the philosopher's stone in his pursuit to turn common metal into gold.
Ferdinand Antonin Mladota of Solopysk lived in the Faust house in the 18th century. His experiments sometimes led to big explosions, which made holes in the roof and scared everyone in the neighborhood. His son was believed to be a superb engineer and he was said to entertain his guests with gadgets installed all over the house, such as a door which would open by itself, a flying staircase and electric shocks administered upon touching a door handle.
Probably the most eccentric of them all was Karl Jaenig who lived there in the 19th century. He painted the walls with funeral texts, had a functional gallows at home and slept in a wooden coffin.

Today the Faust House is unfortunately not opened to the public and is solely used by the Faculty of Medicine at Charles University, housing among other things a pharmacy.

On our latest visit to Prague I had my picture taken in front of this beautiful building, which I remember passing as a child on walks taken with my grandfather, while he would tell me the story of doctor Faustus. Although it looks much smaller and less menacing than I recall, standing in front of it still makes all the legends I remember come alive.

July 14, 2009

The Flight Of Bats.

The word bat can bring on a feeling of uneasiness in many. These little creatures are linked with the supernatural and in some way with something unpleasant and even something evil. How unfair that is, as none of the evil myths about them are true.

I love bats. They are magnificent animals and unusual beings. Everything about them is out of the ordinary and I find that very intriguing.
Bats are mammals, yet their limbs are converted into wings and they are thus the only mammals known to man that can fly. Unlike widely believed, they do not suck the blood of animals (with a few exceptions) and most bats eat fruits and insects, contributing greatly in the pollination of plants, seed dispersal and pest control.
Even more fascinating are the senses of the bat. Bat is not blind, but its eye sight is pore. However, it has been postulated that some species can sense ultraviolet light. Their senses of smell and hearing are excellent. As written on the wikipedia site: "By emitting high-pitched sounds and listening to the echoes, also known as sonar, bats locate prey and other nearby objects. This is the process of echolocation, an ability they share with dolphins and whales."

Where I live, many bats can be observed during the summer season. As soon as the air grows still upon the approaching dusk, many can be seen flying just outside my windows. I love to watch them. Silent and fast, they change flight direction in a split of a second. My eyes are unable to fully capture their movement, due to not just the lack of light, but also due to the incredible speed with which they fly.

The below is a short clip of such an encounter on a warm evening a couple of weeks ago. Please forgive the poor picture and sound quality.

video

July 13, 2009

"Anklets".

In my late teens I used to wear a thin, silver chain around my ankle. I never took it off and I loved the small ornament that would shine so brightly against my tanned skin in the summer.
Ankle bracelets, or "anklets" come and go when it comes to fashion. They originate from India, although today they are worn as accessories by women all over the world.
I have recently received a few different ones as a gift and although I have not thought of wearing ankle bracelets for over two decades, suddenly I am feeling like a teenager all over again.

July 12, 2009

Jackmanii' Flowers.

I was up very early this morning, or rather up late last night. Lying in my bed at 3AM, I watched the sky turn rosy red in the far east, as the sun was rising. The somewhat clear skies turned cloudy as I was falling asleep a few hours later and although I woke up to the sound of light rain in the late morning, the day did offer some sunshine in the afternoon.

In some way I like those rainy Sunday mornings. There is no rush to go outside, nor feeling guilty to be missing out on the sunshine. Instead it gives me time to sleep in and bake some fresh bread, prepare coffee from freshly ground beans and curl up in front of the television, watching my favorite movies. Today I watched - again - my favorite tragic story of all times, "Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet". I have dedicated a post to this movie in the past and those who have followed me for a while know two things about me; I am a hopeless romantic and I love this movie. The copy I saw today was a birthday gift from the Irishman, as strangely enough, I never owned the movie until now.
Did I tell you that he just "gets me"?

This week the rain that has been absent for such a long time was welcomed by the nature. No matter how I miss the heat, I have to conclude that the Scandinavian weather is perfect for agriculture.
Likewise, the rain had brought my Jackmanii clematis into bloom! Yes, the first few flowers can now be clearly observed. A reward for me and all of you that have been patient enough to follow this crazy update of mine.

Batcat is oblivious to all these changes in weather and nature and continues to love to relax. He has adopted a new habit in the past two months and that is to jump up on my bed at exactly 4AM each morning sniffing my face and purring loudly, demanding attention.
I can set my watch according to this new routine of his.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful and easy Sunday.

July 11, 2009

A Little Bit Of Everything.

I have once heard that a good day is a day when we laugh a little and cry a little. I have not really laughed or cried today, but the sky definitely has. It has been a very odd day weather wise, or perhaps maybe one should say it has been a normal Scandinavian summer day. Light years removed from the hot and sunny Saturday a week ago, today it has been more April like. We have had rain and sun, windy and wind still, blue skies and dark grey skies and temperature moving up and down on the scale.

In some way, I miss the tropical heat, but then again, as it has cooled down, I feel again up to moving around the house and finally get to do some gardening and much else that has been neglected around here for the past month or so. Sometimes even rainy summer days can have their benefits, which are mostly visible in the nature, that is once again green and fresh.

July 10, 2009

Romantic Summer.

Summer is often considered the season of love and romance. I am a summer child and a flower child and this is an absolute favorite time for an incurable romantic such as me. I do believe that ultimately love - any kind, in any form and at any age - is truly all we need.

I would like to share with you a very romantic, summery, almost twenty years old "one-hit wonder", which was - and still is - a very favorite song of mine. I used to dream myself away to this lovely piece as a young woman and was absolutely enthralled by everything about it; the images, the sentiment, the lyrics and the melody. To this day, every time I hear it, it still sends shivers down my spine. They just don't make music like this anymore...

I dedicate it to all the hopeless romantics out there.

"It's alright with me as long as you are by my side..."

July 09, 2009

The Waldseemüller Map.

Last week, the lovely Gal Friday had a very interesting post about maps. This reminded me of one of the greatest and most interesting world maps, the Waldseemüller map.

I first became aware of its existence upon watching a documentary and I was immediately intrigued. I guess not many know that it clearly, for the first time ever, mentions America by name.

It was created by two young men, one of them being the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller and was originally published in April 1507, carrying the name: "Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii aliorumque lustrationes". As palpable from this extended title, the new continent was named in honour of Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer, navigator and cartographer.

The map is fascinating due to two details; for the first time in history, it names a thin land line in the west as America, and it shows the Pacific Ocean. This means, that in the time when the world in error believed that Christopher Columbus has found a way to Asia, Waldseemüller, according to Vespucci, correctly assumed that a new continent has been discovered. This clarifies particularly the second enigmatic feature of the map; a new continent meant that it had to be separated from Asia by an ocean. Thus, Waldseemüller used his intuition at the time of the map creation, as by then no Westerner has seen the west coast of America. However, this has nevertheless raised speculations concerning the fact that Waldseemüller possibly could have known about the Pacific from other maps, drawn by unknown explores.

About 1000 copies of the wall map existed at one time. Today only one remains. It was discovered in 1901 at the Wolfegg Castle in Württemberg, Germany. In 2001, this last copy was purchased by the united States Library of Congress, for 10 million dollars, where it is kept on display today.

July 08, 2009

Stars In Motion.

I do not know if anyone recalls, that one of the lovely Christmas gifts I received this past year from the Irishman was a book filled with stunning pictures of the stars and other celestial objects. Entitled "Astronomy, 365 Days", it depicts a year with images from the endless universe.
I like to look through it once in a while and often get intrigued by the photographs of our earth and the skies above. Considering that this year is the "International Year Of Astronomy", I like to continue to share with you some of the images that move me.

For the 8th of July, the image in my book depicts the most famous constellation in night sky; Crux, the Southern Cross. Taken with a tripod positioned camera where the shutter is left open, the image created is a stunning one, depicting stars in motion. A true cosmic art, painted with natural colours on a canvas of black velvet, the night sky.

July 07, 2009

Gothic Style And Art Nouveau.

When it comes to architecture, I surely am no expert. If I am asked to describe a type of building that I would truly like, I would most likely bring up the multitude of Gothic styled cathedrals that I have gazed upon and visited over the years. I have an inclination to be fascinated by the Medieval times, when these grand and majestic structures were built. I love the vastness of the space, the clear vertical lines, the vaults, the arches, the columns and not to forget the multitude of glass windows that conclude these striking structures. I also love the adornation and sculptures that decorate the facade, including the gargoyles and the multitude of tall spires; all creating a shroud of mystique and enigmatic darkness depicted in Gothic Novels, which are so captivating.

However, in recent years I have started to appreciate the beauty and style of the Art Nouveau.

This begun already when I was a very young teenager, without my realization. I was utterly intrigued and greatly inspired by a great Czech artist, that is considered as the founder of Art Nouveau. Alfons Mucha was born and raised in the former Austrian Empire (in the part that is today Czech republic), but already as a very young man moved to Paris, where he produced magazine and advertising illustrations. As often happens in life, he was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and became a sensation literally over night, when he was commissioned to create a poster of Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress in Paris, in 1894.

I love his style that is so romantic and so accomplished in colours and shapes, often depicting women with a serene style and feminine elegance. I also find some sort of recognition in his way of creating a series of pictures; such as the different seasons, the different times of the day or the different stars in the sky, as I too find great fascination in following a change or depicting or capturing a progress. My most favorite series is for sure the ethereal beauties that depict the times of the year. Already when I gazed at his winter, spring, summer and autumn for the first time, I knew this was the style that I was born to paint myself.

On our visit to Prague this June I visited the Mucha museum which shows off some of his lovely originals, although most of them are displayed in the galleries of Paris. However, I got to see one of his absolute masterpieces, that can only be seen in Prague and not in any museum. He is the designer of one of the stained glass widows in the St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle. Watching it leaves me in a complete awe, as I find the composition, the colours and overall the style incredibly pleasing to the eye.
Particularly as the experience combines my favorite Gothic Style with Art Nouveau.