November 30, 2008

1st Advent.

Today the 1st Advent is celebrated in Scandinavia. It is a religious observance taking place four Sundays prior to Christmas Eve. Traditionally families gather and light the first candle, of four, in an Advent wreath or an Advent Candle Holder. I recall fondly this Sunday from my childhood, as this meant the beginning of the Christmas Holiday season.

This was the Sunday when the city came alive. The shops were open long hours and the scent of roasted chestnuts and almonds was heavy in the air, while the merchants in the street stands tempted the passerby’s with a glass of hot red vine.
Later in the evening, at a certain hour, as by magic, all the millions of Christmas lights were turned on simultaneously and the city was "illuminated" by enchanted lights, not to be turned off for the next thirty days. This was also traditionally when the massive Christmas tree in the city square was lit while people were lining the streets to watch the Christmas parade.

Today I prefer to spend the 1st Advent in the safe and comfortable confinements of my home thinking about those I dearly love and miss very much.
Happy First Advent Denmark.

November 29, 2008

The Christmas Tree.


Today is the last Saturday in November and a big tradition day in my little white house on the hill; I get ready for Christmas.
This means getting up early and decorating the whole house while listening to my favorite christmas music with Nat King Cole. My very good friends will come by in the early afternoon and we go and get the Christmas tree and in the evening drink a special Danish Christmas drink called "gløgg", which is a kind of a hot, spicy, red wine.

I love getting the tree. I do not buy one; I actually cut one down myself (with some help). In Denmark, there are large plantations with trees. They grow pine trees or rather coniferous evergreen trees adequate for this use, such as spruces. These trees are also exported to other European countries, such as Germany and ordinary people are allowed to come by the plantations and cut their very own tree. I love this tradition, as a freshly cut tree is alive and lasts long while spreading wonderful scent and of course joy around the house.

The tradition of the Christmas Tree has been in my life as long as I can remember. As a child, while still believing in the magic of the holidays, the tree was not to be seen by us, the children, until the very Christmas Eve. While growing up in Sweden, we adapted the Scandinavian tradition of purchasing a tree in mid December and decorating it together. My first own Christmas tree tradition started while I lived in the US, where I always had a tree for Thanksgiving.
Today I have mixed all the traditions of my childhood, youth and adulthood, combining the east with the west and then creating something that is my very own.
Although being way to old to believe in the enchanted Christmas, the magic of the holiday season is still very evident in my life and I would not have it any other way.

November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving.

Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving weekend,
all American bloggers.:))


November 25, 2008

Winter Feeling.


Some parts of Denmark received snow this weekend. Fortunately, it remains dry, but very cold in the part where I live. I can see the snowy hills across the bay and find it incredible that there is snow just a few miles north of here. Nevertheless, it can snow here too, and quiet heavily.
As promised, I would like to share images of winterly and snowy landscape with those of you who live in the warmer parts of the world and never or rarely get to see snow (lucky you!).
This movie was taken in 2007 when a snowstorm hit us and I could not leave the house for a few days. Enjoy.:)))
video

November 24, 2008

In The Spirit Of The Season.


It is inevitable; the Christmas holidays are here. They start earlier and earlier each year.
When I was a child in Eastern Europe, the Christmas season started the week of the 24th of December. When I was growing up in Sweden, the holidays began with the celebration of the "First Advent", a religious observance four Sundays before Christmas Eve. Later, while living in the US, I realized that the holidays started with Thanksgiving celebration in the end of November.
Today, already the first week of November there are Christmas decorations put up in the stores. I recall how odd it was just a few years back, if I purchased new Christmas ornaments already in beginning of December or even bought some of the presents. Now I almost feel as though I am running out of time if I do not start in November with all the purchases.
Yes the commercialism has taken over the holidays somewhat. Nevertheless, in some way, it makes the gloomy autumn a bit more cheerful and makes the wonderful winter holidays last a bit longer.
If one doesn’t fall for all the “acquisition mania” and just relaxes and allows one self to be swept away by the spirit of the season, it can be pleasurable indeed. It doesn’t cost anything to just take a walk through the city in a good company and gaze at all the Christmas lights and decorations. It is a very inexpensive joy to lit candles and to curl up with some good old fashioned Christmas music and a glass of hot spicy red vine, while writing Christmas cards. Or perhaps one can watch old Christmas classics with a cup of hot chocolate beside a crackling fire for almost no money at all.
Well, call me romantic and corny. Risking to sound "oh so very cliché", the truth still remains; the best in life is indeed free.

November 23, 2008

Lazy Sunday.

video

November 22, 2008

Winter Is Just Around The Corner.


Today was one of the first days of the autumn when the temperature during the day did not go above 0C (about 32F). That means it was freezing cold. Inland and in the east part of the country the first snow has fallen. Therefore I decided to haul in large quantities of wood, so I would be set for at least the next month with enough firewood for my fireplace. This took most of the afternoon and most of my energy. It is at times like these I wish my Irish roommate was a permanent one.
The sunset occurred at exactly 4PM, making the day not just cold, but also very short. I managed to capture the setting sun just before it disappeared. Winter is truly knocking on the door.

November 21, 2008

Glow In The Dark.


In order to confirm that I truly feel young, at least young at heart, I have to share something magically whimsical.
I am not a child, but I at times like childlike things. My friend Holly was recently captivated by the fact that I have my bedroom in the attic. 'It had a little princess feel', she stated. I never thought about that, but she is right on. I am very romantic and this is indeed reflected all over my house and the rooms. My bedroom is no exception. The bed is right under a window in the vaulted ceiling, enabling me to watch stars in the black night sky. Often the moon will shine right onto my face while I sleep. Or, at times, it will illuminate my favourite painting of all times, given to me by a special man.
He also very early understood my fascination with the sky and the stars and gave me a wonderful, magical gift, "Glow in the dark stars and galaxies”. Meant to be put up in children’s room, this gift made me giddy and happy, just like a little girl. I placed the glowing stars all around the window in the vaulted ceiling, just above the bed, creating a fantasy extension of the night sky. The shinning stars are the last thing I see before I close my eyes, reminding me of what I hold dear. It is a jovial kind of magic I still enjoy despite many candles on my birthday cake.

November 20, 2008

Time, Like A Snowflake...


"Time, like a snowflake, disappears while we're trying to decide what to do with it."
Unknown


I wrote this down when I was a young girl, as already then I perceived this sentence to be somewhat profound. There are numerous quotes about time, possibly much better than this one. Still, I have always liked this one best, as it is simple, yet poignant.

The fleeting time. A term of total contradictions in every way. We seem to either be out of it, or not know what to do with it. It can be happy, or sad. It does not wait, yet sometimes it seems not to move at all. It holds no remorse or affirmations, but it awards promises of second chances. It is unforgiving and precise, still it kindly sweeps away painful memories while healing our heart and soul. It is subjective, relative and very individual. And it is constant.

I have been thinking a great deal about time lately; contemplating the fact that a day, a week or a month seem to be much shorter than I remember when I was young. Not to talk about years. What happened to the length of years? As a child, I defined a year by birthdays and Christmases. When one celebration was over, it took FOREVER before the next one arrived. Today it seems as if it is always Christmas and I can't bear adding yet another candle to my birthday cake. Well, actually, at this point, there is no room for any candles. And has not been for a while. No cakes either.
Someone once told me, that the length of a year is decreasing with age, as it becomes a shorter period of our total life span. That is one possible explanation.

I have mixed feelings about getting older. I enjoy being wiser and more experienced. I relish being more relaxed and comfortable in my own skin. I love to know who I am and I enjoy the self-confidence. At the same time, although I accept it, I find it distressingly objectionable that physically I am declining. Mentally I feel young, but physically I look old(er) and as such I am perceived by those who are young. I also find it more difficult to take major decisions, as some decisions have grave consequences. Gone are the times when things could just be done again. If something did not work or failed, there would be another opportunity. I could do it again. Today, repeating certain things or getting another shot at something is not easy. Actually it is often no longer possible. Time will not forgive my mistakes as easily as twenty years ago.

Then there is the whole subject of looking back. Trying to assess ones life and be the ultimate judge of ones achievements. That has never worked for me and today I have stopped trying. There are aspects of my life, to which I paid no attention and in this area I have flourished. I flourished beyond belief. It took me a while to start appreciating those parts of my life, as I used to only focus on what went badly wrong. I focused on broken dreams and unfulfilled goals. Scrutinizing the paths I took and contemplating whether they took me where I wanted to be. Often they did not. Or at least it seemed that way to me.

My life has so far certainly been quiet different to what I imagined it would be long time ago, when I was a little girl. I have won and lost, I have been happy and in deep despair. I have met wonderful people that changed and defined me, but I have also been hurt and mislead. I have been flying with the eagles and have fallen into gutters, nonetheless, I never lost the sight of the stars.
I would not trade my life or change the past, even if I had the chance. Time has certainly showed me that I have done the best I could with what I was given. My mistakes as well as my triumphs are part of who I am. Although I am a fatalist to some degree, I also believe firmly that I hold the power to bring on changes and alterations in my life when needed. I can find new directions and opportunities if I just look; time has shown me that too.

Someone once said, that life is as a large ocean and we are the ships sailing it. Our destination is predetermined, but the journey is not. We create the voyage.
I have enjoyed the trip so far, even though every day seem shorter, every week goes faster and every year leaves a new trace on my face. And I am convinced the best is yet to come.

November 19, 2008

Nameless Beauty.

A friend of mine gave me a flowering plant as a gift, when she once came over for a visit during the Christmas holidays. The plant was tiny and cactus like, I would say, with interestingly shaped leaves and four delicate pink flowers. Unfortunately the flowers disappeared right after New Year and the plant never flowered again. I thought it never would, as the small buds that sprouted at one point in February all fell off.
Nevertheless, the plant was thriving and kept growing. This summer I placed it in my bedroom window, which receives a lot of light in the morning. The room is the highest point in my house. Positioned in the attic, it is the warmest place at all times during the year.
To my surprise, about a month ago the plant grew new buds; at least hundreds of them it seemed. This time they did not fall of but developed and flourished, until the beautifully pink flowers returned about a week ago. Today I still do not know what the plant is called. If any of you reading this have a suggestion, I would be grateful to know, so I can finally give my favourite plant a name.:)

November 18, 2008

Favourite Books Tag.

Recently I got encouraged by Diane to list one favorite book in 4 different categories; Fiction, Non-fiction, Autobiography and Any genre. I should also explain why I do like these in 30 words.

The thing is, I do not read that much anymore. Well, I do read, but in comparison to others, it appears I do not read at all. My handsome Irishman seem to be able to read a book a day and can even be reading several books at a time, which is completely impossible for me, as I would just mix the plots up. Additionally, he reads to me every evening and I love to share this experience with him.
Well, I on the other hand get through a book just like when I enjoy a lawish meal; I take my time. Unless it is of course a really crappy meal/book, then I take my time too, but for completely different reasons.

I used to read a lot as young girl. But then life happened and there is way to little time in it for books. Nevertheless, I still enjoy curling up with a good book in the weekends and on summer vacations.

But back to the book meme.
Here are my nominations:


Fiction:
"Reliquary" by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
This is the best book ever written by my two favourite authors of all time. I own all their books, but this is by far their best work. A mix of science, fiction and the supernatural, or MY KIND of mix.

Non-fiction:
"A Brief History of Time" by Stephen W. Hawkin
One doesn’t have to be a scientist to be captivated by this subject; his writing, although perhaps complicated is still a wonderful take on the universe.

Autobiography:
"Dneska už se tomu směju" by Adina Mandlová
Yes, it is in Czech.:) I am sorry, but this is by far the best autobiography I ever read.
Translation: "Today it makes me laugh" by Adina Mandlová
I read this when I was a teenager and enjoyed it immensely; I loved the lightness in the writing, even if the subjects were very grave. Written by a Czech actress, it depicts her life in Czech republic in the 1930's.


Any genre:
"The Lady and The Unicorn" by Tracy Chevalier
I choose here fiction story based partly on facts, depicting real occurrences and real subjects.
It is a wonderful book describing the making of exquisite tapestries in 15th century France. I was very captivated by this work and still today I keep at times thinking about the people involved in the creation of these magnificent pieces of art.

Please, any of you reading this, feel free to list your favourite books in these 4 genres, should you wish to do so.;)

November 17, 2008

A Walk Down Memory Lane...







I keep all my photographs in a big cardboard box. One of those storage boxes you can purchase in a store and put it all together, with a lid and everything. Not long time ago, I was moving this box, for some reason or another. The box is by now VERY heavy as it holds the sentiments and reflections of my life which stretch over many decades.
Well, when I moved the box, the bottom fell out. Just like that. I was standing there for a few seconds in disbelieve, but yes, the bottom fell out and hundreds of photographs were spread all over the floor in wonderful heap. This happened on a morning before I was off to work and I was furious, as I had no time to deal with this mess. So the pictures lay there in a heap for days before the weekend came and I sat down to put this mess into order.
And it took many hours to sort them out, as of course, some of the pictures were really old and I could not help but going through them, almost one by one. They brought back years and decades, people and places I have long forgotten. The late afternoon became evening before I was done.
I decided to share one wonderful picture I found. It is of me and my sister, while we were visiting very good friends of the family. I love the way we are seated and the whole composition of this snapshot that was taken without our knowledge some 20 years ago around Christmas.
This little incident made me realize that somehow everything happens for a reason; I was meant to drop the box, as if I did not, I would have not have had this beautiful walk down the memory lane.

November 16, 2008

Clementines.



This Friday I bought my first clementines of the season. They are similar to tangerines, but smaller and sweeter. Very popular in Europe, imported from Morocco or Spain, they are (I think) still not as widespread in the US.
I love the taste of any kind of citrus fruit, but especially oranges, clementines and tangerines. They remind me strongly of Christmas. Since I was a child, they were freely available in the winter. The scent of the orange peel, together with cinnamon and clove are one of the most Christmas like I can imagine.

November 15, 2008

Spring in November?


Today is again a dreadful, windy, rainy and dark November day outside.
But, I am all tucked in sitting on my favorite chair with a cup of hot coffee and my laptop. I am comfortably relaxing in front of the fireplace while "Batcat" (which is the cat) is lying on the sheepskin at my feet, enjoying the warmth of the fire.
I read in the newspaper today that we are experiencing the warmest year on record in Denmark, right after 2006 and 2007. Particularly November and December seems to be warmer than usual.

I took these photographs of the bushes and shrubs in my garden earlier this week, to document a strange phenomenon, which I have been observing for a few years. It might perhaps be linked to the increase in average temperatures. The pictures here seem to bee depicting budding branches in the middle of the spring, but these are indeed taken in the middle of November of my two hedges in bloom.
Even though the flowers are small and weak, they are still there. Both the shrubs and the evergreen normally flower in late May, early June and it is an astonishing sight, when all the trees are bare and the nights are already frosty and cold.



I have already once written about the fact that flowers and fruits seemed to appear on rosebushes simultaneously in September. This week, my rose next to the fence was blooming.

I wonder, if this is natural occurrence and quiet common, or whether the nature is slowly changing.Or whether we are changing it.

November 14, 2008

Long Overdue...

My very, very, VERY talented friend Diane is extremely popular. Yes she is.:) And that is not surprising. Her blog following is considerable and I have indeed enjoyed seeing it grow. She keeps receiving these wonderful awards from other talented writers and she deserves them all. However, she seems to think I do to, as she passes them on to me and I feel so very honoured by this.

Long overdue, it is now my turn to give out these awards to others, who, as I said before, deserve them more than I ever will and I hope they will kindly accept them. I hope in the future to be able to give these to new friends and talented writers, whose blogs I am to stumble upon or who will with interest visit mine.


I will start with the latest award I received called “Proximidade Award”. It is suppose to be given to people who have become your blog friends. Diane explains it very well here.


Well, without question, I have to award the first award back to Diane.;) I wish we would not live so far apart as we have so much in common and I would love to spend some time with her in real life.

Second, I will give this award to Holly, even though she already has one, I have noticed. However, she is really my pal and if we ever met in reality, I know we would get along so well. By my standards, she is leading the life of my dreams.

I would also like to give this award to Hilary. It is funny how quickly one can feel to know someone well. I feel she is so genuine and I have a longing wish to speak to her in person. I would love to accompany her on those long, tranquil walks when she takes all those beautiful photographs.

Now to the “Superior Scribbler Award”.

Again, this one is going back to Diane, no doubt. I do not even have to even explain why.

I would also like to give this prominent award to Diane’s friend Mel, who’s wonderful blog I so enjoy reading. It is humours, but with a serious undertone, and this combination makes it very genuine. You deserve this one Mel.
Remember to add your name to the list.:)

Please feel free to pass these awards onto others.;)
Thank you again Diane.

November 13, 2008

Incense.

The scent of burning incense evokes a mixture of feelings in me. Not just a sense of serenity, but it also induces the mysterious, enigmatic and spiritual. Burning of incense reminds me of small alternative shops selling magic healing stones, tarot cards and astrology books.
But it also reminds me of home.

About a decade ago I was without a home for about 6 months. I was forced to move around, like a vagabond. Every two weeks, I had to pack my belongings into my small car and move. It was a depressive time, which I do not recall fondly.
I hated the constant change and the fact that I did not have a safe, secure place –a home- to return to. I hated the uncertainty of my situation and the helplessness of being unable to change it. But I had one thing that was constant and familiar – the burning of incense. Every time I moved to a new place, I lit the incense and the familiar scent spread around, putting my senses to ease, making each new place less estranged, making that place a home, even though only a temporary one.

Today I still enjoy this little ceremony, as it reminds me of how fleeting everything in life is and how easy we can loose the things we own and hold dear.

November 12, 2008

A Rose.



This morning, when I looked out of the window, I could see that almost all the trees are now standing barren. The storm the other day has removed any trace of the beautiful golden and copper colored leaves and now they lie in heaps all over my terrace, in a need of raking.
But as I looked across toward the fence, I could see that my rose was in bloom. The flowers have remarkably survived the night frost and the strong wind. What an extraordinary sight to observe - a delicate flower defying the season, despite the winter approaching rapidly.

November 11, 2008

At the Foothills of the Tatras.

Sometimes I truly do not know where I belong. I have my childhood memories anchored to one place, my teens to another. My adult life I have spent moving between places as well. Nowhere did I stay long enough to feel as if I belonged there.
I was born at the foothills of the High Tatra mountains, in the city of Poprad, for many a completely unknown place, where I spend the first 6 years of my life. I remember the mountains clearly, as we could watch them from the kitchen window of our apartment. The sun would always set over the ridges of these beautiful natural formations, making me, already at a very young age, aware of how amazing the beauty of nature is.

November 10, 2008

November, The Ninth Month.






This morning I woke up to one of those Scandinavian autumn mornings I truly dislike with all my heart and soul; pitch dark, cold, rainy and VERY windy. Windy is actually not the correct word. STORMY would be more appropriate. It was one of those Mondays when all I wanted to do was to press the snooze button on my alarm and go back to sleep. It was inhuman to be dragged out of bed in the middle of the night. I contemplated for a while why people living this far up north are not allowed to go into hibernation. Furthermore I was trying come up with reasons why not to call in sick today.
This weekend I was pondering over the month of November. The name November comes from the Latin Novem, meaning nine. So actually, this is the ninth month in the original Roman Calender. In another languages, which did not adapted the Latin naming, November has other meanings. For example, in old Danish, it was called "Slagtemåned", which means "Slaughter month", most likely due to the fact, that people would be slaughtering pigs, getting ready for the winter. In Czech, November is called "Listopad", meaning in translation, "The falling of the leaves month".
In any case, November is a bit dreadful, but then again, it is also a month full of the anticipation of the Christmas Holidays. It is also the month, when here in Scandinavia, people light the candles, eat delicious, but heavy food and tend to stay indoors, creating a cosy atmosphere.






After living here for a very long time, I still have not adapted to the weather, particularly the autumn and the winter. But talking to Scandinavians, born and raised here, very few of them find this weather pleasing. Except for the wind. I have met people that love the wind. And perhaps they do so for a reason. Many of my foreign visitors have noticed the incredible quality of the air we have here. Indeed, the wind moves the air around and changes it constantly, making it clean and fresh at all times of the year.

November 08, 2008

My Oldest Book.


During my childhood summers, I spend several weeks with my grandparents in Prague. Those were the times in which I grew to love that city and that love has remained with me till this day. The particular atmosphere I remember is by long gone, but inside my heart and my mind, I carry all the precious memories that connect me to a specific time and place, that I will always cherish.
While staying in the old apartment with my grandparents, I was allowed to read a very special book. It was very unique to me, as it was a book with the tales of Prague, the city. I loved that book and perceived it to be very significant, as it was so heavy and large in my small hands. The cover captivated me; it depicts a man astride on a white horse, jumping of a cliff. One can sense clearly the feeling of resolution and determination not just in the posture of this man, but also in his face.

The man is called Horymir and he is riding his bellowed horse Semik (I often wondered whether Tolkien was inspired by some of the Slavic legends and used similar names for his heroes). This picture, painted by a famous Czech artist Mikolas Ales, is inspired by a legend, where Horymir, imprisoned in the Vysehrad castle asks for one last wish before his execution. He requests to be permitted a final ride on his horse around the castle yard. His wish is granted and after circling the yard a few times, the loyal horse obeys his master’s order and jumps over the castle wall and into the Vltava (Moldau) river below, bringing his master into safety. The king is so impressed by this courage, he grants Horymir his freedom.
It was one of my favorite stories of all.

After my grandparents passed away, this book was given to my parents, who later gave to me, knowing how much I loved reading it as a child. Today is not just the most treasured book I own, but being printed in 1937, also the oldest one.

November 07, 2008

The 5th of the 5th.



Recently my friend Diane tagged who ever wanted and felt up to it, to post the 4th of the 4th. That is, posting the 4th photograph or picture in the 4th picture folder on the computer. But she changed this slightly and went for the 5th picture and so will I. Mostly due to the fact that I recently posted my 4th of the 4th.;)
Well, not long time ago I went through my old "back up" CD to find a picture that I drew using a keyboard and a mouse . I decided to look through my old picture folder on this back up CD to find the 5th of the 5th, as I felt there could be some interesting, forgotten pictures there. And I was right. The folder was called "Last pictures of Duke" and contained -very appropriately- pictures taken by me in the end of October, a couple of months prior to my final departure for Scandinavia, after living in North Carolina for almost a decade.
The fifth picture is a striking autumn picture taken almost exactly 10 years ago in Duke Gardens, a beautiful, serene place connected to Duke University. Photographed with one of the first digital cameras available at that time, it is now a precious sentimental memory in my 5th folder.

November 06, 2008

The Top of Denmark.

If I take my car and drive for two hours north, as far as I can get, I will end up in Skagen. It is a narrow piece of sandy land that stretches far into the ocean, creating a spectacular place, which has for centuries intrigued and inspired artists with its magical light. This is a place where a meeting of two seas can be watched, a spectacular vision to witness.
The below is a clip from last September, unfortunately of poor quality, taken with my phone. Nevertheless, the crushing of the rolling waves into each other, just off shore is clearly visible. So is the rough, but pristine and rugged nature of the North.

video

November 05, 2008

The Mysterious World.


As scientist, I am forced to keep an open mind. But, concurrently, I am bound to approach everything with scepticism and encouraged to question what I experience. I am compelled to use logical deduction and only trust my results, as long as they can be supported by proof. Every experimental conclusion in my work is subjected to a vigorous critique and re-evaluation and has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt to be accepted as true.

But, with that said, as soon as I am outside the scientific environment, I perceive the world around me in a quiet different way. To some degree, anything mysterious intrigues me and I do not need proof to believe. I rely heavily on my intuition, my creativity and artistic mind and interpret the world and the people around me using my instincts only. I have been told that I am sensitive and perceptive and am - for better or worse- completely governed by my emotions. I believe strongly that not everything we encounter follows the laws of physics and that some things between heaven and earth are not meant to be explained. In fact, I actually need to believe this, as the perception of the world being mysterious and spiritual is what is at the very core of my being.
My imagination is immense and my awareness for what is hidden has been instrumental in my work, as I can see things from many perspectives and pay attention to details. Therefore this has never been a hindrance in my work, quite the contrary; to me these two are connected in more way than one.

I have a need to believe that miracles happen every day. It doesn’t have to be supernatural enchantment, just simple act of goodness when it is least expected and from an unanticipated source.
It is the check that arrives when money is scarce; it is the twist of faith that brings our way salvation, when all our cards have been played or the second chance we get when all our luck has run out. It is the hope that we feel when despair is consuming us and it is the way we never give up, no matter how dark the prospects are. It is the joy we feel when our prayers are answered, no matter what or whom we pray to. It is the infinite power of hope and the love we are able to feel towards each other, through all the horrors and pain that fills the world at all times.

I often gaze at the sky and the stars and wonder, how human kind has for centuries turned to them for answers. It often brings me back to a quote I wrote down as a young girl:

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."
Albert Einstein

November 04, 2008

The Prophet.


I remember seeing this printed as a poster long time ago and I have always liked the meaning behind these words. Not having any children of my own, I can not say if this is indeed true, but I like the following excerpt from "The Prophet", by Kahlil Gibran:

-Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday...-

November 03, 2008

The Alchymist.


This picture was featured in one of our scientific catalogues at work. I liked it so much, that I decided to order a reprint of the painting and placed it on the wall just above my desk at home. It is called "The Alchymist" and it is painted by an English landscape and portrait artist, Joseph Wright of Derby, around 1771. I love the way he managed to capture the feeling of expectation and marvel that every scientist can recognize. The sensation that overcomes one just before getting a result or performing an experiment.
The piece is actually called The Alchymist in Search of the Philosopher's Stone and illustrates the moment of discovery of the element phosphorus by German alchemist Hennig Brand in 1669.
I love the atmosphere, the play on light and dark, creating a mysterious setting. I can see the painting every time I sit at my desk and almost always settle my eyes on it for more than a moment, as it reminds me of mankind’s curiosity and the never-ending pursuit of progress.

November 02, 2008

Favorite Period Movies.

I like to watch movies. Especially on Sundays, when the weather is dark and gloomy, such as November tends to be this far up north. I like to get up, make myself coffee and fresh warm bread roles, curl up with a blanket on my red sofa and get lost in other worlds.

I would like to list my top 10 favorite period movies:


1) Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet
I have already dedicated a post to this movie and it is by far my all time favorite movie and will remain so. In my opinion the best adaptation of this tragic love story I have ever seen.

2) Bram Stoker's Dracula
The 1992 version is the most visually stunning one. I almost cannot breath watching this film; it is so very touching and overwhelming, depicting true love that stretched across centuries. My favorite movie of this genre, even if it should perhaps be classified more appropriately as a horror-romance.

3) Dangerous Beauty
A wonderful movie, starring Catherine McCormack, playing an innocent girl, who becomes a Venetian courtesan in order to be with the man she loves. I have seen it numerous times and still love the lightness of the piece, mixed with humor, but still depicting the deep severity of the 16th century Venice.

4) Ivanhoe
I think this movie never made to the big screen, but I have watched it at least dozen times on television as a young teenager. In Sweden it became a tradition to send it around Christmas and I never missed it. It was the most romantic love story to a naive girl I was then, but I have to admit, I would watch it still. Olivia Hussey is my favorite actress of all times and I love to see her portraying Rebecca and I was –of course- in love with Anthony Andrews.;)

5) The Other Boleyn Girl
I saw it this morning for the first time, but definitely not the last. It was a gift from my Irishman and cried my eyes out watching it. The story, adapted from a historical novel by the same name, written by Philippa Gregory, depicts the sibling’s rivalry between two sisters, starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, who compete for the affection of King Henry VIII, but both for different reasons. The story though goes deeper than that, showing ambition, greed, love, the position of women at that time and of course, love between sisters. I can wholeheartedly recommend this movie.

6) The Four Musketeers
Since I was a child, I loved this 1974 adaptation of the famous Dumas’s novel.

7) Pride and Prejudice
8)Sense and Sensibility
I have always loved and enjoyed Jane Austin novels. Many of them have been made into television series and movies, but none of them (to me at least) seemed to have been quite right, except for the two listed here. I think Keira Knightley’s portrays Elizabeth Bennett exactly as I have always imagined her in my mind, when reading the Austin novel. And the dashing Matthew Macfadyen was perfect as Mr. Darcy. I love the lightness of the movie and I love the way that scenes intersected and flow into each other, all in perfect harmony creating and building up the tension in a wonderful way.
I saw Sense and Sensibility when it was new and it touched something in me, I liked the casting and the portrayal of the good and bad, and the vanity in people. And of course I love happy endings.

9) Girl with a Pearl Earring
I love this movie as I love the connection between fiction and reality. I never read the book, although I recently read another book written by Tracy Chevalier, "The Lady and the Unicorn". I would see it if it was ever adapted to a movie. Almost every scene in the Girl with a Pearl Earring felt like watching paintings. A visual masterpiece and I just cannot help but admire Scarlet Johansson and her performance, definitely my kind of movie.


10) Vanity Fair
Another gift from my Irishman, this movie was recommended to me by him. I think more than anything, I will never forget the colors and the amazing costumes in ever scene. A movie I would like to watch again, as I think it is deeper than one might think at first.

November 01, 2008

My House, My Home.

I love my house.
I will never forget the first time I saw it. I fell in love with it immediately. I remember it, as it was yesterday; the drive up the blind road, reaching the top of the hill and finding paradise on earth. It was a warm, sunny July afternoon; the sky was baby blue, full with those beautiful, light, fluffy white clouds. The house was the first end house out of 5-whitewashed brick chain houses. It was the last structure up the road, on top of the hill, hidden from view. But absolutely not lacking The View. A view out of this world. The whole city at one’s feet, the roof tops, the harbor, all visible on a clear day. The serenity and the feeling of “never wanting to leave” hit me.

So I did buy it, although I really couldn’t afford it. And today I know it was the best thing I ever did.
Although I officially still live in the city and it only takes about 10 minutes drive to reach the downtown, I am also on the outskirts, surrounded by nature. In the summer, I see horses grazing not far from the window of my study, and I can follow the seasons by looking at birch trees and the never-ending cycle of the changing of their foliage. And I can see the sky from my large windows facing west, where I watch the sunsets, magnificent sunsets that makes me forget troubles and sorrows and only makes me marvel at nature and how beautiful it is, at all times. I so enjoy being at home, that traveling has now become obsolete and holds very little real pleasure for me. I still do travel, even though quiet reluctantly, as I love the feeling of returning home.

I can only really enjoy my house on the weekends. During the week I work long hours. When weekend comes, I spend fixing anything that needs to be fixed or improved either inside or outside, cleaning and gardening.
But comes Saturday afternoon, I love to just sit and relax, reading magazines, drinking coffee and listening to Mozart, with only my house as a company. Well, and Batcat of course. And occasionally a very handsome Irishman. The weekends, when he is around, I am truly happy, as then my world is complete.

Home, after family, is one of the most important things in life. It can mean different things to different people; a safe harbor, a serene place, a quiet place, or a place filled with laughter of children and voices of loved ones. A messy place or a place of order. A clean, stylish and modern place. Or a sentimental place, filled with memories and cluttered with things of affection. An old, familiar and cozy place or a new place, promising a fresh start.
But always a place one loves to return to, a place where one can just be.