August 31, 2009

The Danish Wind.

I do not like the wind, in fact I dislike everything about it. The way it rips through my hair and face, it creates one of the most unpleasant weather types I know. And unfortunately, I live in one of the most windy parts of the world.

I have learned to accept the obvious fact; it is almost never wind still in Scandinavia. As with every rule, there are exceptions. A few days in the midst of the summer, noticeable for being unusually warm, the wind is absent. But, these days are few and far between.
The Danish wind is one of its kind. And the Danes have very early on realized that it holds power, which can be harboured and used to supply us with energy. A leading nation in both manufacturing and the use of wind mills, Denmark is world renowned for capturing the incredible power, which the moving air holds within.

But to live in a windy country is not at all pleasant. At least not unless one is born here. To the natives, the wind is good and welcomed. Often the Danes tell me how much they enjoy the way the wind moves the air around. They love the feeling of it against their face and skin when taking refreshing walks along the beach. When I then list all the things I hate about the wind, they will state the very obvious; there is no wrong weather, only wrong clothes.

I live on the east coast, facing across a narrow sound islands and land, which make up the eastern Scandinavia. Therefore, these parts are still relatively protected from the direct hits of autumn and winter storms. However, the west coast and the north of the peninsula I call home are exposed to the raging waters of the Atlantic. Those parts of Denmark experience strong hurricane force winds on regular bases.

There is however one advantage that the windy conditions provide at all times. The air quality. It is constantly superb and pristine. Anyone living in a large metropolis knows how the pollution can obscure the sun and the sky, giving rise to curfews and causing long term effects on the health of its population.
Such problem are unheard of here. We do not use any air quality indexes or codes as the air is always clean and clear, in cities or in the country side. This is a fact that I try very hard to remember every time I walk out of my door and feel my hair sticking to my lipstick, smearing my makeup and making me freeze as I yet again underestimated the Scandinavia weather and am wearing the wrong clothes.

The below is taken a couple of weeks ago. What some would consider being a storm in progress, is only an absolutely regular Sunday afternoon weather.


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August 30, 2009

The Last Sunday Of Summer.

It has gone by so very fast. One minute the summer was about to begin, and suddenly August is leaving, taking the summer, or at least, the term of the summer with it.

I am a summer child and I love summers endlessly. Every time they are about to leave, I experience a wave of melancholy. Perhaps, a lot of it has to do with the fact that the summer months feel so short in my part of the world.

Changes are inevitable. Some are good, some are bad, but they are necessary. I know that the change of seasons is a vital progress, important for the well-being of the animals and the plants. As much as I dislike when the summer is about to leave, I do love the changes that the nature goes through during a year.

To summarize this years summer, I can only conclude that it was very ordinary. We had a few warm days, we had many rainy days and some sunny days as well. We had about five really hot days and unfortunately, the summer was nothing like the beautiful, sunny and warm spring, which proceeded it. Statistically, each year that the summer rains away, as it did this year, we are getting a better chance to have a really excellent summer the following year. Therefore, the hope is still alive.

Below an update on the progress of the changing of the foliage, which my beautiful birch tree undergoes. Nothing obvious has happened yet, although on closer inspection, a few more golden leaves are visible.

Good bye summer!

August 29, 2009

Late August Saturday.

The weather has turned very unstable, making it feel more like April than August. It rains heavily one minute, while the sun shines the next, making the air hot and cold, in a fast, alternate manner.
This is the first Saturday for a while that I am spending entirely inside. I am back to my "Lazy Saturday Afternoon" with a good cup of coffee, Batcat relaxing languidly at my feet and a couple of good magazines, which I have not had time to read yet. As I am reading, once in while I lean back to watch the rain pounding at the window pane, followed by the sun shining through the drops.

I love reading magazines and still today have two subscriptions; one is a fashion magazine and one is an interior decoration/culinary magazine. Both excellent and very inspiring. A perfect company for a rainy day.

August 28, 2009

Flashback Friday: "Snow On The Sahara".

The nineties brought, I would say, a void into my musical world. A decade defined by alternative compositions, when "grunge" prevailed and other very progressive and angry styles ruled the music scene. They did nothing for me.
I was suffering.

Therefore, I turned to explorations of music separated from the mainstream styles and I developed a deeper liking for Country, Jazz, New Age and Bossa Nova.

It was during this time that I made my acquaintance with Anggun, a beautiful artist from Indonesia. When I heard the captivating, almost spiritual "Snow On The Sahara" for the first time, it felt indeed as if finding an oasis in the desert.
Unusual in lyrics and harmony and visually stunning, it still sounds so very unique ten years on.

August 27, 2009

A Late Summer Walk.

Although I live in a very close proximity to the downtown of Denmark's second largest city, I also live a stone throw away from the country side. In fact, my neighbourhood lies at the city limits and I have beautiful natural scenery just outside my windows.

If I drive for about five minutes, I end up at an old estate with a large park like land, stretching across a large protected area. It is intersected by trails through old forests, following a small stream, all the way to the coast. Today the estate is part of the University and harbours the department of Archeology. Furthermore it functions as a Viking Museum, where ancient artifacts are on permanent display. Including the petrified, over 2000 year old body of the "Bog Man".

The surroundings are quiet and tranquil, with alleys lined by deep-rooted trees, leading to the old, water driven mill that still works on Sunday afternoons and from which the pristine forest trails head all the way to the sandy beaches through the natural woods from pre-historic times. I love to walk there and try to do so as often as I can.

There is nothing more therapeutic than a walk through beautiful nature on late summer afternoons. Or in any season, for that matter.

August 26, 2009

Family Art.

Many members of my family are creative. My mother used to love to write when she was younger. She loves poetry and used to compete in local recital competitions as a child. Her sister, my aunt, always loved to draw and even though she initially worked as an architect, today she owns her own art design company, illustrating books and creating commercials.

My father, just like me, loves to paint. He has created numerous art pieces that used to hang on display in his practice, before he retired. I think many of his patients admired his painting and urged him to have an exhibition. My father though regards oil painting as his hobby and over the years has given most of his art away.

I have been the lucky receiver of three of his paintings, all stunning in my eyes. I enjoy his meticulous, detailed style. All three oil works have been inspired by the Swedish nature. Anything from country roads in early spring to the pristine beaches in the summer. The vivid colours and the choice of the scenery shows that he is a nature lover and a dreamer at heart.

I'd like to think that I inherited these traits from him.

August 25, 2009

"Bohemian Style".

Considering that I have mentioned the word Bohemian in my yesterday post, I though I would elaborate a little bit on the term Bohemian Style, which is a favorite style of mine.
Or I guess, the only style of mine.

I love everything about it, particularly in the more modern form, where it - at least to me - embraces the free thinking of unconventional living, in harmony with nature, focused on an artistic mindset. Both in fashion and home decoration, it is the design that appeals to all my senses of a romantic dreamer, with its incredible colours, natural fabrics and an eclectic, sensual femininity in every aspect.

I bet most of you are very familiar with the term Bohemian, but few of you know its origins. Initially a French word, the term bohémien was a common term for the Romani people of France, who had reached Western Europe via Bohemia, the country of my origin. It became a term used in the early 19th century when artists and creators began to concentrate in the lower-rent, lower class gypsy neighborhoods. The alternative lifestyle of Gypsies inspired a movement, that later came to encompass almost an adventurous existence, with at times eccentric thinking of like-minded people, such as artist, actors, musicians or writers.

Of course, today the term Bohemian or Boho has been adapted to be used in describing almost anything that defines a laid back, unhampered style, such as fashion (with the term Boho-chic), interior design, jewelry making, art, crafts, literary works or music. In the past, it has been associated with writers and numerous artist, such as the Pre-Raphaelites, my favorite art movement of all.

As for my own affection for this carefree style, I guess it started early on, when I already as a child became fascinated by the vivid multitude of colours of the flaring fabrics of long dresses of the seventies. I have always been allured by anything that was aesthetically pleasing and I guess, tried to also convey that into the romantic pictures I drew as a young teenager. They became a hit among my peers and I drew countless images of ethereal looking girls with flowing wild hair and dreamy expression, all of which I gave away as gifts to my friends.

As I grew older, I was drawn to almost anything eclectic and while living in the US, my personal style developed in the direction of almost a hippie like fashion. Coincidentally, the nineties brought a revival of the 60's style, with wide pants and loose tunics with flower-power patterns. I enjoyed immensely the travels I did in the Four Corners states, where the crafts and jewelry of the Native Americans was readily available. To this day I wear rings, earrings and bracelets that are hand made in this part of the world.

My home is filled with colours and patterns as well. The style is wild and free, very much like my personal outlook. I like to think of my home as a safe heaven, always cosy and inviting, perhaps never stylish or modern and rarely organized. My visitors often tell me, that they experience a feeling of well being and relaxation, when staying at the house. The airy space and the wide windows, with mesmerizing views of nature might have much to do with that. But perhaps some of it can be attributed to the vivid colours and the unrestricted freedom of the Bohemian Style.

August 24, 2009

Bohemian Historical Glass.

Bohemia, or today's Czech Republic, has a long and famous history in glass making. Czech Crystal is renowned for its quality and beauty. The superb craftsmanship dates back to the Renaissance period, when abundant natural crystal was discovered throughout the Czech Republic. Bohemian glass workers early on realized, that mixing the crystal with potash gave rise to a glass ware of unusually high quality and the famous term Bohemian Glass was born.

Although I do own glass ware made out of the famous Czech crystal, my favorite two pieces are replicas of the Bohemian historical glass. Not many know that such glass can today be purchased in Czech republic, although the stores dealing with this interesting product are getting fewer by each year. This is a sad development, but also a subject for an entirely different discussion...

The pieces presented here were bought on my recent trip to Prague, in a small, beautiful and genuine store that specializes in selling this kind of art and are one of the most unique stem wares I own. Depicting wine glasses from the 16th century, they could be so very fitting to serve drinks from at a table in a Czech castle. Thus making me feel like a queen.

August 23, 2009

A Golden Leaf.

Despite my best effort to ignore the signs of the approaching autumn, they seem to be suddenly everywhere. The weather is still relatively warm, the days are still light, but it is no longer summer here in Scandinavia. I can not adequately put my finger on what exactly happens, however, it doesn't feel like summer any longer. And the amazing thing is that each year this happens from one day to another.

As if by magic, autumn is in the air. First of all, the sunshine is different. It becomes more golden, full with a tint of orange and yellow. Even though the air can still be warm, it has a different scent. The grass grows suddenly more slowly. Gone are the Dandelions and the Daisies. Instead the air is filled with the delicate, fluffy seeds of the Thistle. The Rose Hip bears fruits, the autumn Heather is starting to display the first flowers and the first mushrooms of the season can be found in the woods.
The nature changes in front of our eyes and this is evident mainly on the birch trees outside my windows, which already have the first golden leaves.

I have decided to document the change of their foliage, that takes place through the autumn, as another feature of my "progressive photography", which I am so very fond of. There is a beautiful, majestic birch tree in our yard, just in front of my kitchen window. The grass surrounding it is already covered by the very few first fallen leaves. I will post a picture of it every Sunday, until it stands bare in the beginning of winter.

Welcome to yet another theme of progressive photography. (As always, please click the pictures to enlarge the image.)

August 22, 2009

Trimming Boxwood.

In August the plants in my garden are in the end of their growing season. The most abundant of them at this point is the lovely Caprifolium that is blooming with hundreds of flowers. It is as if it knows that the days are getting shorter and tries eagerly to capture whatever remains of the warm August sun.

Usually, during this last month of the summer, I trim all my evergreens. The bushes lining both my terraces have by now ceased to grow and need to be prepared for winter. They can still be trimmed all the way until October, but before the arrival of the first frost.

I also have two Boxwood plants. This is also an evergreen, very common plant/bush in Scandinavia, as it is very sturdy and grows without trouble in our temperate climate. It can withstand the long winters and is often used in parks, where it can be formed into shapes for decoration.
One of the Boxwoods I own was given to me by my parents. It was initially growing in their own garden, while they still lived in Sweden. A few years back they uprooted it and brought it here and planted it on my terrace as a gift . It was very small at that point and has grown a lot over the years. I have cut it back each season, but have always been a bit unsure about how to trim it. My other Boxwood has a naturally round shape and has been trimmed into a form of a ball every August. But I never knew how to trim my parents plant.

This year I drastically cut it back a lot. I decided to form it in to a shape of a cube. At first I was a bit worried that I cut it way to much, but now I think the trimming was definitely an improvement.

August 21, 2009

Flashback Friday: "I'll Be Waiting".

In music, sometimes the best happens when fusion is involved. Although I did not enjoy rock when I was young, I started to become fond of it as I grew older. Particularly when the Latin rhythms and jazz sound were added, I was hooked.

Such is the music of Carlos Santana and his band from the seventies. The below is my absolutely favorite track from the album Moonflower. The album contains other tracks which I enjoy, such as the very famous "She Is Not There". Still, the below has a certain "feel-good" vibe to it and to this day, it is included in my very best mix and played often on my lazy Saturday afternoons. I think the video accompanying this smooth jazz tune is filled with so very fitting images adequately describing the last few weeks of summer...

August 20, 2009

Stardust.

Ever so often I post beautiful images from an intriguing book, entitled Astronomy, 365 Days. This work contains 365 photographs, all linked to our universe. One for each day of the year. I received it as a gift and considering that this year is the International Year Of Astronomy, I find it fitting to share some of the most stunning images with you.

For the 20th of August, the image couldn't be more appropriate and appealing to the painter in me. Entitled "Elements Of The Swan Nebula", also called Omega Nebula, it depicts clouds and dust, the very elements from which new stars are born. The colours each represents known chemical components; red indicates emission from sulfur, green from hydrogen and blue from oxygen.
A talented painter could have not created a more formidable masterpiece...

August 19, 2009

Storing Sun Rays.

Some of you might remember that I purchased an unusual solar lamp about a month ago.
Made out of clay, it looks like an interesting candle holder. However, it contains a solar panel that catches the sun light during the day and emits a warm, yellow light upon the onset of dusk. The most intriguing feature about this lovely solar lamp is the fact that it flickers, simulating a candle.

The White Nights officially ended on the 7th of August and this means that the amount of sunlight is decreasing as well. However, it is still sufficient enough to charge all my solar lamps. I have had a lot of enjoyment from all of them over the course of the summer, particularly this new one.
I have placed it just outside the large window next to the main entrance door. Its warm flickering light makes my entrance inviting after the darkness settles over the neighbourhood. Additionally, it can be seen both from the outside and the inside of the house, thus functioning as a sort of a nightlight, casting a magical, almost ethereal light across the staircase during the darkest hours of the night.

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August 18, 2009

Ladybugs Of Late Summer.

Interestingly, I rarely see Ladybugs during the height of the summer. Only a single one here and there. However, they are apparent in large numbers in the early spring and late summer.

When I was at the beach a couple of weeks ago, in the afternoons, the amount of these cute insects was almost overwhelming. They descended into the waterfront, gathering on washed up seaweed, as if preparing for a trip. Likewise, they now collect and enjoy the sunny spots all over my terrace. In some way this sadly signifies the fact, that the days are getting shorter and that autumn is preparing for its grand entrance.
Lady Summer will try to hold on as long as She can, and some Indian Summer is still in store for us.
But Lady Autumn is getting closer by each day.

August 17, 2009

Restoring Garden Furniture.

When I moved into my white house on the hill, the house came with a patio and a semi-garden, one can say. Until then, I have always lived in apartments and only had small balconies, at the best.
I was thrilled by the idea of having a space to use outside as well and went on a hunt for garden furniture that would be suitable for my terrace. I never realized how expensive these are. After visiting numerous stores, I finally settled on a really inexpensive set from IKEA. I love that store and almost my entire house is furnished with items purchased there.

I have never been much for tending to anything that stands outside, except for my plants. The rest has been left to the mercy of sun, rain, wind and snow, therefore my furniture slowly but surely started to decay. I have oiled it occasionally, but that can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The fact that the furniture still stands is a clear proof of the superb quality of anything sold at IKEA.

I knew it was time to either throw it away or restore it and when my father offered to help on my parents recent visit, I happily accepted.
He did most of the hard work of stripping the old paint and sanding down the wood. I could not believe how beautiful the light wood was, which was hiding beneath the worn cover of old paint and flaky surface.

After two coats of red brown varnish, the garden furniture became fully restored to its original splendor. In fact, I have to conclude it looks better than when it was new. And for a fraction of the price.
(Please click the images to enlarge.)

August 16, 2009

Late Summer Fruit.

I have no fruit trees in my garden. Well, I do not think there would be any room for them on my terrace. However, I have bushes and plants that do give rise to fruit in late summer and autumn. I am not sure any of the can be eaten, but they are sure pretty to look at. Some of my plants in pots do carry nut like fruits and seeds as well, such as the Boxwood.

The most beautiful is without a doubt the Caprifolium, that is in its second bloom. Simultaneously it bears fruit starting late August and long into October, from its first flowers and later from the second bloom. It is truly magnificent right now and heavy with colours and scent.

The other significantly fruit bearing bush is my Cherry Laurel. I have always found this to be the most interesting of my plants. It is an evergreen and blooms with fragrant white flowers in early May into June. Some years more than others. The flowers change into green, cherry like fruit that slowly turns red in late summer. Ultimately the cherries become black, serving at all times as a lovely decoration against the juicy green of the plant itself.

August 15, 2009

August Rain.

My terrace after today's late summer rain.
(Please click the image to enlarge.)

August 14, 2009

Flashback Friday: "On The Beach".

I decided to end the working week on the same note as I began it; with a beach.
When I was in my teens, August meant the start of school and the long, lazy days spend on the beach were suddenly just sweet, distant memories.

There is one particular song that does manage to extend the feel of this beautiful season. "On The Beach", performed by the talented Chris Rea has all the elements one looks for in a great summer song - beautiful images, soothing voice and a pleasing melody that makes me think of white sand, crystal clear sea and warm sun. I fell in love with it the first time I heard it played on the radio, which was more than twenty years ago. Nonetheless, I find this laid back musical jewel timeless and incredibly pleasing to all the senses, even today.
Enjoy!

August 13, 2009

"Blame Tara".

I have been tagged again. I have noticed that these tags, just like awards, come in waves, like a "tag fever". Nothing, nothing and then everything at once.

I am not complaining though as I never say no to a good tag challenge. This time around I was tagged by the very interesting gaelikaa and the tag is called "Blame Tara Meme".
It consist of a set of questions that I am to answer. Here we go:

Question 1: Who do you think is the hottest movie star?
I have to say that I am quiet oblivious to actors looks and I usually connect an actor with a role he or she is playing and the enigmatic appeal is gone, as soon as they are out of character. However, considering I have to give an answer, in the male category it would be Gerard Butler, mostly due to the fact that I love the movies he has been in. When it comes to female actors, I have always thought Penelope Cruz is a stunning and charismatic woman.

Question 2: Apart from your house and your car, what is the most expensive thing you have ever bought?
Well, I did not buy it, but I invested in having it built about two years ago. It would be my fireplace. It cost me half of the price of my car and it is the best investment (right after my house and my car), that I ever did.

Question 3: What is your most treasured memory?
There are many moments in my life that I recall fondly and with great comfort and joy. I would say all of them involve either my family, nature or my house.
Having to choose one, I would say meeting the Irishman for the first time. I will never forget that day as long as I live.

Question 4: What is the best gift you’ve ever received as a child?
My sister, without a doubt.

Question 5: What is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?
I have made my share of what one might perceive as mistakes. However, in retrospect, they took me on journeys that made my life an adventure and made me who I am today. I have no regrets and I can not account for any wrong turns that did not turn into success eventually.
I have been let down and made choices that lead to disappointments, but I have made no mistakes in my life.

Question 6: Give four words to describe yourself.
Romantic, Optimistic, Creative and Curious.

Question 7: What was your highlight or lowlight of 2008?
I live in the present and leave the past where it belongs; in the past.

Question 8: What is your favourite film?
Franco Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet".

Question 9: Tell something not generally known about yourself.
I am a control freak. I love routines and I need a structure in my life to function properly; I feel best if I can control and organize the course of my day, week or month at all times.

Question 10: If you were a comic strip/cartoon character, who would you be?
I am not very familiar with comic strips and cartoons, I am afraid. I never ever saw myself as one and never considered this before. May I get back to you on that one?

As always; anyone loving this tag and feeling brave enough to be challenged, be my guests.

August 12, 2009

Two Gifts - For No Reason At All.

Recently I have received two gifts that made me happy.

One was a gift from me to myself. Last week, while my mom was in town, I had an opportunity to go an a wild shopping spree, something I have not done for a long time. My mother and I are very similar when it comes to purchasing; we both enjoy it immensely and never walk away from anything we like. We both share an avid interest in fashion, perfumes and makeup and can spend hours in a cosmetic store. This time was no exception.

I stumbled upon a new fragrance and immediately found the scent extremely appealing. The perfume was just right, in every aspect. I have not had that experience since I found my favorite perfume of all, "Light Blue" from D&G, about 5 years ago. This one is now a very close second. With such an endearing name, "Funny" from Moschino is the best gift I have given myself recently.

The next gift came in a wonderfully wrapped package with Irish stamps all over it. And a very neat handwriting. It contained an incredibly beautiful necklace of colourful stones and beads, handmade and exclusive.

The best gifts are gifts given for no reason at all.

August 11, 2009

A Thunderstorm.

I am not sure how I feel about thunderstorms. They both frighten and fascinate me. Yesterday morning, I awoke to the sound of a thunder in the distance. Thunderstorms are not uncommon in Denmark, but severe ones are.
This one turned out to be severe.

As I was having my breakfast some thirty minutes later, heavy, tropical rain was already pounding at my window panes. It looked like someone was poring water straight down from the skies. I immediately noticed that my cat started to behave strangely. He seemed very upset and anxious, crouching in the corner, his eyes large and dark as the night. I talked to him with laughter as he has experienced multitude of thunderstorms previously and has never acted this way when they were approaching. I guess I was becoming a bit nervous myself at this point, as the air grew suddenly very still; despite the fact that the rain has receded, menacing, low clouds were just overhead.

The thunder was by then really close and I could feel the storm was about to pass over my house. As I was finishing that thought, I was almost blinded by a strange electrical light and within a fraction of a second almost deafened by the incredible roar that followed, while the whole house shook. At this point, Batcat had already found shelter under my bed.

I am not sure if I received a direct hit, or if it was the neighbours recently renovated house and the brand new flag pole that was the target. All I know is that it scared the living daylights out of me. I learned later in the day that this was one of the worst thunderstorms on record in Denmark and it gave rise to destructive tornadoes further up north, something unheard of in this part of the world.

I feel that any powerful phenomenon in nature is fascinating, particularly when it can be watched safely. Thunderstorms are definitely natural light shows that fall under this category.
Already as a child, we were told that they were very dangerous and stories about "Balls Of Lightning" were circulated in our family, claiming to have been experienced directly by my aunt and cousin in their cottage in the Czech countryside. The lightning ball rolled down over the roof of the cottage; a scary encounter during a hot summer night about thirty years ago. Apparently in some of the neighbouring houses it even entered the house and flew across the room injuring its occupants.
I became severely afraid of thunderstorm when living in North Carolina and made sure I was never ever caught in one while outside.

The scientist in me is always interested in cold facts and therefore I can not help but quote the first few sentences about lightning, as listed by wikipedia:

"Lightning is an atmospheric discharge of electricity accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms, and sometimes during volcanic eruptions or dust storms. In the atmospheric electrical discharge, a leader of a bolt of lightning can travel at speeds of 60,000 m/s (130,000 mph), and can reach temperatures approaching 30,000 °C (54,000 °F), hot enough to fuse silica sand into glass channels known as fulgurites which are normally hollow and can extend some distance into the ground. There are some 16 million lightning storms in the world every year."

Interestingly this means, that in the immediate vicinity of a lightning bolt, the temperatures are about 3x higher than the surface of the sun. I find it utterly fascinating, that such high temperatures can be created, even for a fraction of a second, here on Earth. Likewise, the fact that to this day it is not completely clear to scientists how lightning forms amuses me.
And I guess we all know that the safest place to be in a thunderstorm is inside a car, thanks to Mr. Faraday and his cage.

In recent years, more serious injuries and fatalities than ever before are reported as a result of lightning even as far up north as Scandinavia. Hoverer spectacular these natural events might be, I guess eventually one should at all times express a deep respect for nature and never underestimate its hidden fury.

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August 10, 2009

On The Beach.

I have stated previously that Scandinavian summers are fleeting and elusive. The citizens of the North opt almost at all times for travels south during June-August, to soak up the sun and the heat of the Mediterranean. Staying at home is very risky, as the summer here can very likely rain away, offering only cold and windy days.

However, there are exceptions.

When the easterly winds bring warm air from the continent, my immediate vicinity becomes a dream vacation destination. EVERYTHING is just right. The light evenings, the absolute proximity to culture and history, the many cafes lining the city channel, the dining at the water front and the evening entertainment with a selection of musical styles, once the night settles over the city.
Not to mention the nature. I live a stone throw away from beautiful woods and meadows, with trails offering a plethora of walks in the pristine country side.

And then there are the beaches. Beaches out of this world, I must say. I can reach them if I drive - or walk - in any direction. They all differ in size and composition, some facing east, some west, creating a harmony of light and colours. Always clean and never crowded.
While my parents were here last week, the unusually sunny and warm weather allowed for visits to several nearby beaches. Some are covered with pebbles, with rolling, blue-green waves hitting the shore, filling the air with aerosol of salt and water.
Some pristine and untouched, calm and almost tropical, with white sand and warm, turquoise sea.

Almost never am I a tourist in my own home. On those rare occasions, when I show my visitors around, I do realize that I need not to travel anywhere, as so much beauty seems to lie just outside my own door step.

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August 09, 2009

The Receding Scandinavian Sun.

August is one of those months that I both love and hate. I love the fact that it is usually very sunny and dry, in contrast to July. Almost as a rule, August and September tease us with the last feelings of summer, even though almost as if by a stroke of magic, from pretty much one day to another, the evenings get colder.

And most of all, darker.

This is very palpable from my living room windows, which offers magnificent sunsets from the early spring to late autumn. I have dedicated numerous posts to this natural, almost theatrical event, as the sunset fascinates me incredibly. Living on a hill right above the city, I love to watch the changes in the journey that the evening sun takes over the course of the year. The White Nights officially ended this past Friday, which means the end of my favorite season of the year and the beginning of the sun recession.

The sun moves from the ultimate southwest in January towards the west and I love to watch it re-appear in late February, when it once again becomes visible in my view. In the course of March through May, it offers breathtaking light shows, setting further to the right in my view, until mid June, when it sets almost in the far northwest. I have to lean out of the window to watch it set, as it leaves a trace of blood-red sky that doesn't disappear, but moves slowly to the far northeast, turning into sunrise, creating the magic of the Scandinavian White Nights.
As soon as July reaches its end, the setting sun is venturing on the opposite journey back westwards and then slowly back to the south in August through October. Until it disappears all together comes November, setting behind the hills in the southwest, becoming absent for at least three months in the depths of winter, starting in early December, making the day about 10 hours shorter then in the summer months.

Already now, the sun has moved back and the day has lost two hours since the summer solstice. For the next two months, the beautiful solar shows will once again take place in front of my windows, reinforcing the fact the nature is the most talented performer.

August 08, 2009

"Second Bloom".

My parents left today, driving back home to Prague. It is always a bit surreal to have a house full of life one minute and then have it all to oneself again the next.
I enjoy having visitors and my family is no exception. Particularly as the moments we get to spend together are few and far between...

The weather has turned for the better and it has been a wonderful summer week. I am so thankful that my mother and father got to see Scandinavia at it's very best, with beautiful sunny days, when warm easterly winds bring dry air, reviving the last summer month with visits to the beach, creating memories to last through the long winter ahead.

Nature is again all in bloom after receiving the vital sun light. My kaprifolium (honeysuckle) and roses are in their "second bloom" period. I love to see the presence of the fragrant flowers of the honeysuckle at the same time as the dark red berries, which are the fruits of the earlier June flowers. If the conditions are right, the lovely roses will last long into the time of the first frost.

August 07, 2009

Flashback Friday: "Lady Karneval".

Considering the fact that my parents are visiting right now, I am experiencing a slight wave of nostalgia while remembering my past.

In Czech republic, there is one artist that has been active in the spot light for over 50 years. His name is Karel Gott. His voice and enigmatic charisma with which he conveyed the multitude of beautiful melodies and lyrics created by other talented Czech writers and composers signifies and defines the music of my early childhood.
To me his name simply equals with my introduction to the world of music.

This Friday I will share with you the first song ever that had an impact on my life.
Or so I have been told.
I love music and I believe that my love for music was evident already when I was a baby. My parents claim, that at any time I was unhappy or crying as a toddler and they ran out of options or ideas on what to do to comfort me, they eventually almost always resolved to playing this particular song. As soon as the tunes of "Lady Karneval" were in the air, I was immediately quiet and even smiled.

I have to admit that even today this music still makes me want to dance. Please enjoy the below medley and the feel of 60's and 70's performances of this - to most of you - completely unknown, but unusually talented artist.

August 06, 2009

Altering A Tag.


Yes, I have been tagged once again and I do not mind. This time by the lovely MelRox.

This is a very interesting meme, which prompts me to list 7 words that would adequately describe me.

I like this one, I have to admit, as it actually proved more of a challenge than I originally thought. I feel at times it is difficult to write posts that focus on my person so directly. It can easily become a somewhat self centered subject, likely boring for others and it is difficult to keep it bias. So I cheated a bit.

I asked my family - my mother and the Irishman - to write down seven words, that they would think describe me. Here are the words that they wrote down (without consulting each other) in no particular order:

creative
individual
determined
enthusiastic
fashionable
sentimental
loyal
nature-lover
sensual
artistic
happy
responsible
life-lover
idealist


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Interestingly, the words that I would use to describe myself, were not far removed from those used by my family:

creative
punctual
sensitive
passionate
romantic
curious
stubborn


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There you have it, all these together must give a pretty good image of me, I would presume.;)
Anyone interested in doing this tag -with or without alteration- please feel free to be tagged.