February 27, 2010

Looking For Spring...

Usually in my weekend posts I share with you some pristine pictures of the nature that surrounds me. Or of the stunning views out of my windows, capturing the beauty in plants, trees or the sky.
However, this would mean sharing yet a few winter pictures and I assume everyone is about to be fed up with that.

As I dislike to keep my posts completely picture-less, I did upload a picture as seen here above. It depicts a view I show rarely, although it deserves to be seen. Taken out of my kitchen windows, one can glimpse the sea in the distance. A view obstructed by birch trees in the summer, but absolutely magnificent in winter.

As for the rest of today's post instead of a collage, I decided to share with you my first small cinematographic attempt. It is not that good; still, I hope it will make you smile.

I think that the star of my film needs no introduction and the clip itself explains the sentiment.
All that remains for me to do now is to wish you all a lovely weekend - from all of us here in the white house on a hill.

February 26, 2010

Flashback Friday: "Baby Come Back".

There is something enticing about the soft rock of the seventies. Yes indeed, some of the most beautiful melodies carrying this label, fall under my favorite music styles.

This includes songs by the American band Player. As stated by the famous wikipedia:
"Player gained popularity as a live act during the heyday of the 1970s stadium rock era. They began to develop a distinctive, edgy and melodic rock style. Their biggest hit, "Baby Come Back", rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978 and was a chart success in other countries. Their follow up single "This Time I'm In It For Love" also peaked at No. 10 the same year. Among several notable accolades, Player was named Billboard's Best New Singles Artist of 1978. Eric Clapton became so impressed with Player that he invited them to open for him during his 1978 North American tour."

I became aware of Player first in mid 80's, when I heard their compilations played by the various soft rock radio stations. What intrigued me even more was when I in the early nineties realized that Ronn Moss, who portrays Ridge Forrester on the long running soap opera "The Bold And The Beautiful" was/is actually an active member of the band. I was addicted to that show in the 80's and had a crush on Ridge. How amusing that seems to me now.

All this aside though, "Baby Come Back" is simply magnificent. Instead of describing the timeless appeal of this compilation, I let the music speak for it self.

February 25, 2010

February Facts.

The second month of this year and officially the third (and last) month of winter is closing to its end, bringing the end of the season ever so closer as well. Not that we here in Scandinavia can tell, buried under all the snow.

I guess everyone knows that it is the shortest month of the year. But did you know that February is the most misspelled month? Its name is derived from the Latin word "Februum", which means "purification", via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 in the old Roman calendar.

Here is a collection of Fun February Facts:

∗Amethyst is the birthstone for February.

∗The flower of February is violet or primrose.

∗February is National Cherry and Chocolate Month (among countless others), which explains all those Valentine's Day gifts of chocolate-covered cherries.

∗In February 1847, the United States Post Office introduced adhesive stamps, which simplified post office operations along with one's mailing process for Valentine's Day, February 14th.

∗A few selected birthdays:
Thomas A. Edison, American inventor, was born on February 11, 1847.
Galileo, Italian astronomer and physicist, was born on February 15, 1564.
Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, was born on February 19, 1473.
Victor Hugo, French poet and novelist, was born on February 26, 1802.
American frontiersman William Frederick Cody, better known as "Buffalo Bill," was born in February 1846.

∗And the best fact for me: The day has in my part of the world increased by 3 hours and 30 minutes since the winter solstice.

February 24, 2010

The First Sunset.

Anyone who has lived in Scandinavia recognizes the lack of daylight in winter. The dark winter months, when sun is absent for weeks at a time, are indeed difficult to bear, as our winter and summer days differ by about eleven hours of light.

Slowly, as we reach the end of February, the closing winter season signifies the return of the sun. Or rather, the conclusion of the dark winter days.
The sun has by now moved significantly further up in the sky and is setting about three hours later then in December. This means that it has left the hills in my immediate south and has almost reached the natural horizon, as it disappears on the evening sky.

I have mentioned numerous times in the past, how much I love the magnificent sunsets, which I can watch from my windows. This past weekend, for the first time since October, the skies once again offered a true sunset. A sunset over a snowy landscape, a barely just sunset, but a first visible sunset nevertheless.

This is the first significant sign that winter is closing towards its end, despite the final snow fury it keeps bestowing upon us.

February 23, 2010

My Favourite Summer Picture(s).

The lovely Kat at Kat's Corner recently invited us to a very simple challenge; to post our favourite summer picture.

I love this challenge.
It makes for a nice break between all the winter pictures that I keep sharing (and will be sharing for a few weeks more). In fact I loved it so much, I went further than that. I found two summer pictures. All right, to be honest, I simply could not decide which one I loved best, so I am posting both.
And to complicate matters even further (as I am not very good with simple), I posted recent winter pictures as well. Not my favourite, but pictures of the same spot, some eight months later, for comparison.

Why are these two my absolute favorite? Because they show my favourite spot in my summer garden. Or terrace. Both taken last June, a few days apart, they depict that same spot at two different times of the day.
They were taken during the beautiful early summer, when my caprifolium (honeysuckle) and jasmine were both in full bloom, making that part of my terrace a heavenly place. A tranquil, scented hideaway, that offers moments of serenity and contemplation during the day. And comes evening, my outdoor fireplace (chiminea) spreads a beautiful wooden aroma in the air, making the same spot cosy and relaxing.

This is the enchanted time of the year, the season of the Scandinavian white nights that keep the evenings light, with sunsets occurring on the other side of midnight.

These June pictures symbolize my favorite part of the year - I simply can not wait for its return.

(Please click the image to enlarge)

February 22, 2010

Things That Make me Happy.

My blog friends are very kind to me and I simply keep getting these awards. This despite the fact that I am guilty of two major offenses:
1) I never pass them on myself
2) I take forever to acknowledge the award givers

Still, better late than never, it is time to thank those of you who gave me these beautiful tokens.

The first one, called Inspiring Blog Award is from Radka, an artist who writes a lovely blog about her little boy. It carries the name of her son, Matýsek. She is my only Czech reader and I appreciate her kind visits and this lovely attention.

Then there is my most avid and devoted reader sprinkles. I have gotten three awards from her recently. Well, one of them is actually meant for Batcat. Yes indeed, Batcat starts to be a popular blogger in his own right. Thank you so much dear sprinkles!

Sprinkles awards came with a tag, to list ten things that make me happy. What a delightful tag this indeed is. An optimist and a very happy person by nature, I have no problem with naming ten things that bring smile to my face.
However, in order not to make this post extremely long, I decided to list only five and return with five more at another occasion.

Views Out Of My Windows.
They are endlessly enticing. In any season, at any time of the day - stunningly beautiful, pristine and tranquil. Images of nature, of the fascinating yearly cycle in the life of the trees and plants. The breathtaking sunsets, as the sun moves on its journey across the sky, painting the blue canvas in every imaginable colour. In snow, in bloom, after a summer rain, when the foliage is on fire in autumn - gazing out of my windows is a feast for my mind and soul.

My House And My Garden.
I love my house. I have dedicated numerous posts to my home, as the place where we lay our hat is one of the most important places in our life. I am happy being home, in fact so happy that I need not to leave it for days. Either being inside, or being outside on my two terraces, while hours pass away as I plant flowers or tend to bushes and herbs, feeling the soil between my fingers and the sun on my face. Gardening is very therapeutic and brings an infinite tranquility to me whole being.

The Sea.
The unforgettable moments in my memories includes time spend at the sea. Views of the ocean, sound of the waves. My favorite is the summer sea, when I can stretch out on the warm sand, feeling its soft and warm texture, while the soothing sound of the moving water plays a calming harmony in the background. Gazing at the endless body of water fills me with unrestricted freedom and happiness.

My devoted friend and companion. As cute, funny and hilarious, as he is calm, independent and elegant. A perfect pet, adding ambiance to my home, making it feel full of life at all times. Gifting me with unconditional love and relaxing me with his presence and his ways. Inspiring me and astounding me and making me smile on daily bases.

My Man.
Love needs no words and description and so I leave you only with the notion, that the feeling of loving someone and the feeling of being loved back is one of the greatest sources of happiness in my life.
It is that which makes it worth living.

February 20, 2010

Still In Snow...

Here we are, one week away from the first spring month and I was hoping to start writing about spring signs. However, our nature definitely does not display any such signs at all.

In fact, I was snowed in yesterday. Getting ready for work, I realized that driving out of the drive way was going to be an undertaking, not too mention driving to work. Our street is a private street and thus is often not cleared initially. Driving up the hill after a heavy, or even a light snowfall can be somewhat hairy. The same goes for our driveway. We share a large gravel parking lot and it is some undertaking to keep it clear. As most of my neighbors have been away this week, due to official week of school holidays, the snow shoveling has been neglected. This is actually a problem as we are by law required to keep our properties cleared of snow, to avoid accidents and injuries to others.

Thus yesterday, when I found myself with an involuntary day off, I decided to clear our parking and driveway. I was shoveling for two hours without a break and today my whole body is aching. Still, it was so worth it. There is something incredibly satisfactory about a physical activity, using the power of our bodies. My profession requires me often to use only my mental power, thus the instances where I can employ my physical abilities are always welcomed.

In fact, did you know that 15 minutes of snow shoveling counts as moderate physical activity according to the 1996 Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health. And apparently an hour of snow shoveling burns 420 calories. Therefore my yesterdays activity must count for an absolutely hard physical work out. Still, as with any such activity, there are tips and tricks on how to shovel safely, without causing injuries, such as listed by wikiHow.

As I sit here, writing this, it is snowing heavily again. This year Lady Winter ignores the calendar and is becoming that guest that will never leave. Nevertheless, despite it all, the snow covered landscape is infinitely beautiful.
Even now, after gazing at it for over two months, the images and views still take my breath away.

February 19, 2010

Flashback Friday: "Flash".

Most of us are familiar with the fairy tale story of Grace Kelly. The stunningly elegant and sophisticated American beauty icon that met and married a prince, becoming princess Grace of Monaco.
When I was a teenager, the youngest daughter of the royal couple, Princess Stéphanie, was in her teens as well. Considered a somewhat rebellious child, often termed the wild princess, she was constantly in the tabloids, in less than flattering stories. We read about her escapades and her relationships and I guess at that time, she truly was a wild child. Although in today's world, I think her behaviour would be considered much less problematic than twenty years ago.

Princess Stéphanie enjoyed also a brief singing carrier. Although dismissed by many, I truly enjoyed her unique music style. Her soft, fragile, almost childlike voice and catchy melodies were very appealing and she did climb the European charts with her big hit "Ouragan" (Hurricane) in 1986.
Taken from her first album entitled Besoin released in the same year is also the compilation below. "Flash" became number one in Sweden, where I grew up. Still a teenager myself when this song was a hit, today I relish in the absolutely familiar eighties feel that envelops me every time I hear it.

February 18, 2010

Ice Stalactite.

There is a large icicle just outside my bedroom window. Every morning, as I open the blinds, I can see its menacing shape. Beautiful and clean, as it is sharp and dangerous, resembling a spike of glass, ready to inflict serious damage.

Sculptured by nature some eight weeks ago, it has since then not diminished in size at all. I have not seen it melt or drip, it looks solid and majestic every day.
Fortunately, it poses very little threat to anyone. Below it is only a secluded area, where I have placed large flower pots. Therefore no humans nor animals are in harms way. Except my pots of course, but I assume that they will be strong enough to withstand the fury of the spike should it ever fall.

I find icicles as intriguing and fascinating, as much as they do frighten me. It is a given fact, that in a few weeks, when hopefully warmer temperatures will reach even Scandinavia, large chunks of ice and snow will become dislodged from roofs and windows, posing danger to people, animals and even parked cars on the street.

However, that time is still somewhat removed from our reality. Spring is yet nowhere in sight and in fact, it is suppose to snow again today.
Therefore every coming morning, as I open the blinds and yet again gaze at that dangerous beauty of ice, I will be reminded of the simple fact that Lady Winter continues to be very much in reign. Still, I know that if I wait patiently, that one particular day will come, when its sharp and pointy edge will have formed into drops of water.
And then I will know that spring is imminent.

February 17, 2010

Beauty In Nails.

There is so much that can be told about an individuals personality and health just by looking at their hands. Particularly their nails. Even the doctor will look at our nails almost immediately during medical checkups, as the shape, the texture and the colour can tell so much about the state of our health.

What attracts me in a man are his hands. Large, strong hands, with healthy and clean nails (just like my Irishman's) - what can be more appealing?

Likewise, I try to take care of my own hands as well, feeling that hands are a mirror of our traits and habits. However, to my great dismay, working in a laboratory requires me to wash my hands almost constantly and I wear rubber or plastic gloves on regular bases. Therefore I know all about chapped hands and broken nails and I have to take very good care of my hands to avoid destroying them. These rough conditions make it almost impossible for me to grow my nails long, even though that is what I would prefer.

Even though I love makeup and wear a lot of it every day, I very rarely wear nail polish. In some way I like to let my nails breath and will only paint them for special occasion or during summer vacations. I love the way my nails flourish when I am absent from the lab and when I can coat them with colours and let them grow long. Still my favorite manicure is the French one, leaving the nails colourless and well cared for, with white tips and pink base.

Here are a few interesting facts about nails:

• Both hair and nails are made of the same protein, called keratin.
• Finger nails grow faster than toe nails.
• Men's nails grow faster than women's nails.
• Seasons and weather also affect nail growth. Nails grow faster in warm climates and during daytime, than in cold climates and at night.
• Nail manicure is a very ancient activity. There is evidence that even 4,000 years ago it was known to our predecessors.

February 16, 2010

Halls Of Books.

What can be more timeless, than the written word? What can fuel our imagination, what can inspire us, educate us, comfort us, relax us and be our true companion more powerfully than a book?

I have always loved books, as long as I can remember. Second to drawing, submerging myself in a book was a wonderful timescape for me since childhood. I frequented the libraries in every city I lived in and I recall with amusement today, how I used to bribe my little sister with a bag of potato chips (she was crazy about them!), to make her come with me to the library, when I was about nine years old.
When we moved to Sweden, I recall the library being my very best friend. The books helped me to learn a foreign language and to become familiar with the spoken word in my new country.

The other day I thought about the libraries of the world. There must be so many, but which are the the absolutely most astounding? Curious Expeditions lists twenty most beautiful ones. Among these is the Strahov Monastery Library in Prague, truly one of a kind.

Unfortunately, closed to the public today, one can still visit the monastery itself and stand in the entrance to the library halls, casting a glance at the vastness of space filled with ancient script. Everything takes ones breath away, not just the books, but the rooms themselves. Such as the the Theological Hall, with its intricate and beautifully painted baroque vaulted ceiling. My father recalls, that shortly after the velvet revolution, the library was freely accessible, and he marveled over the opulence of the rooms.
I have visited the library only once, but the impression is everlasting.

The Strahov Monastery was founded in 1140 by bishop Jindrich Zdik and Prince Vladislav II. Strahov can translate into something similar to Guarded. This name comes most likely from the fact that the monastery was build close to a guarded road in the vicinity of the Prague Castle. The library houses within its walls priceless scripts. Over the course of centuries, the monks inhabiting the monastery collected and kept one of the world's most beautifully preserved collections of philosophical and theological texts, including illuminated manuscripts and first editions. The collections consist of about 200 000 old prints (mostly from the period between the 16th through 18th century), around 3000 manuscripts and 1500 first prints. One of the most precious items is the Strahov Evangeliary from the 9th century. The library displays two opulently decorated halls: the Theological Hall and the Philosophical Hall.

Today, the monastery itself is still a home to Premonstratensian monks, a scholarly order closely related to the Jesuits.

February 15, 2010

Arctic Beach.

We are now officially experiencing so called ice winter in parts of southern Scandinavia. This is a very rare phenomenon, occurring only about 3-4 times in a century. In Nordic terms ice winter means that harbours and some sounds freeze. In fact, satellite images of Denmark show white cover extending over the entire country, clearly depicting the lack of visible surface water in certain bays, meaning that they are covered by ice. Actually, some inlets look rather unique, with large ice blocks floating around on the surface, creating the feel of arctic conditions.

Even the ocean in my very vicinity looks rather odd. I pass the bay every day on my way to work and last Friday I decided to stop and document this rare occurrence.
As I stepped out of the car I immediately sensed the absolute power of the icy wind on the exposed skin of my face. The subzero air felt completely alien and surprising.
There was almost a dreamlike feeling to the deserted beach, it felt unfamiliar and close to eerie. The lack of the sound of moving waves and water was immediately very palpable, its comforting splashing replaced by the whistling of the polar wind. I could see the dark open waters in the horizon, but it seemed too far out to even register in my mind.

The large stones and rocks stretching out into the sea were covered with ice and snow and I certainly felt as I have been moved thousands of miles north in an instant. The images of the summer sea, that I so love and cherish appeared almost surreal in that very moment. As much as I stood there in awe, trying to take pictures, while barely feeling the camera in my numb fingers, an almost terrifying sensation enveloped me. Looking at the iced arctic beach, I simply could not imagine the summer ever returning...

(Please click the image below to enlarge.)

February 13, 2010

Heart On Fire.

It is cold, it is snowing and more snow is on the way. So, I can either decide to be really upset about that or choose to ignore the weather all together.

I am opting for the later, going into a weekend of hibernation with Batcat - this includes good books, relaxing music, feel good movies, comfort food and of course - cosy fire.

The below is what my Saturday fire looks like. Perhaps even if you can not feel the real heat, you can get a virtual joy from it. After I filmed the clip, I noticed that one of the logs looks a lot like a heart - how very appropriate for the occasion.

And to those of you who actually do decide to watch the below, look for Batcat appearance about seven seconds into the clip - at least in sound, showing his approval of the fire.
We are wishing everyone a lovely weekend and a happy Valentines Day tomorrow.

February 12, 2010

Flashback Friday: "At Last!".

Considering that we are about to enter the famous Valentine's weekend, I though I would share with you my favorite love song of all.

Love, the universal feeling, that only one we crave at all times and some of us spend a whole lifetime seeking. It is as elusive as it is enchanting and it is as fleeing as it is everlasting. Love means so many different things to so many, yet it unites us all.

Love has inspired many artist and many love songs have been written throughout the times. "At Last" from 1960, performed by the incredibly talented Etta James is a classic in every possible way. It appeals to me, as it is a positive love song. The lyrics convey in such a pleasing way a certain end to the time of longing, bringing a true happy ending to a tangibly trying time, hinted at in the words.

Perhaps it is because I recognize my own faith in the sentiments, or simply because I am a hopeless romantic, always believing that love is eventually all we really need - the lyrics nevertheless symbolize to me a conviction that eventually all will be well.
At last.

February 11, 2010

Random Thoughts.

Apparently I have been missed. Someone noticed (and reminded me) that I neglected to write a post yesterday (thank you F!) Well, it is nice to know that I have not managed to bore - at least not some of you - to death just yet, with my very educational posts and my crazy ramblings.

The lack of posting on my part has been due to many things, but the main one being overwhelmed at work and trying to pay attention to my professional life a bit more than I have been lately. Furthermore, I seem to be lacking inspiration. I usually pre-schedule all my posts and even though I have plenty of posts written, they seem all to feel not right. A similar sensation, which at least women will recognize, to the feel of ones favorite clothes, which seems to fit perfectly one day, only to feel completely off the next.

Anyway, therefore I decided to try to do that which many bloggers do so eloquently. Present to you some random thoughts I have been having lately.

I have been thinking about my childhood. Particularly about those small achievements or milestones that it always seemed to be filled with. Such as loosing the first milk tooth, learning how to read and write, how to swim, how to bicycle. It is not very often in our adulthood that so much knowledge is acquired in such a short time. I also recall with a smile how I used to grow out of my clothes. Today it seems almost surreal. Do you remember not being able to fit your shirts and sweaters and trousers from one year to another? These days I can wear everything I wore a decade ago, with exception of some garments that will not fit around the waist and thighs, to my dismay.

I have also been thinking about my sister, who I miss dearly, as she lives with her family thousands of miles south of me. I can not remember the time when she was born, as I was barely 3 years old. But I have many fond memories from the time just few months later after her arrival. I recall with amusement lying in my crib, just behind hers, pulling at her jump suit leg and making her laugh, over and over. She was no more than six months old. I also remember how I wished for her to finally speak! I used to ask my mother constantly, inquiring when she will start talking back to me. I guess, already bossy at that time, I needed to communicate my orders to her and experienced great aggravation in not being able to do so. I also taught her the almost first word. It was a word naming an animal. A small, cute, wild animal. Other children will usually learn to say cat or dog initially. But not my sister. We had a book with different animal pictures in it and amusingly, the first name she learned and repeated proudly was Weasel. And believe me, it is even more difficult to pronounce in Slovak.

February 09, 2010

The Ancient Water Supply.

I have always been fascinated by ancient Rome. I guess, foremost by the ancient engineering and the state of the Roman civilization, in regards to the infrastructure and the technology.

One of the most intriguing Roman structures must be the Aqueduct. Although these are very much associated with the Romans, aqueducts were devised much earlier in the Near East and Indian subcontinent. The fact that Romans often get away with the credit is that all across Europe, in the parts of the former Roman Empire, one can find very well preserved remains of these spectacular architectural achievements. Some Roman aqueducts are actually still in use, although I found conflicting information about which ones indeed are. The two millenia old aqueduct in Segovia, Spain was at least still in use fifty years ago, supplying the city with water. And the renowned Fontana di Trevi in Rome does receive today water from a modernized ancient aqueduct called Aqua Virgo.

One of the most beautifully preserved and famous is Pont du Gard in France. It was built circa 19 BC and is today a World Heritage Site. Although it is by now suffering from the tides of time and is unfortunately in a great danger of collapsing in the near future.

Roman aqueducts were extremely sophisticated constructions. They were built to transport water inside the arches, within small channels across the Roman Empire, supplying city fountains and baths with fresh water. The principle is very simple - the aqueduct is constructed in such a way that it is titling or leaning in a very shallow gradient of remarkably fine tolerances. For example, at the Pont du Gard, this gradient accounts of only 34 cm per km, descending only 17 m vertically in its entire length of 50 km (31 miles). This is absolutely incredible, as to the naked eye the structure appears completely horizontal. The challenge of an aqueduct was to get this gradient right, because it would overflow or clot if not. Powered entirely by gravity, it could carry large amounts of water very efficiently. The Pont du Gard could transport up to 20,000 cubic meters — nearly 6 million gallons — a day, and the combined aqueducts of the city of Rome supplied around 1 million cubic meters (300 million gallons) a day.

Considering the absolute simplicity behind the concept of the construction, combined with an impeccable building precision, these structures are to me as astounding as any of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

February 08, 2010

"Golden Nerves".

Those two words make up an expression in my language, meaning something similar to "Nerves of Steel". Basically, this is used to describe someone who can stay calm even during the most trying situations. It can also be used as an exclamation, when things get tough, meaning one would love to have "Golden Nerves" in that moment.

However, it can also apply as a description of someone who knows how to relax.
Like Batcat. The way he can shut out the world is amazing. And highly contagious. The below is taken this weekend as he managed to escape into the dreamworld for hours, while lying in front of the fire.

February 06, 2010

Snow Shapes.

Our landscape is covered in heavy snow blanket for the seventh executive week. This is very rare and we are most likely heading towards the coldest winter on record. This year the weather seems to have been dramatically altered across the globe. Greenland is experiencing the warmest winter on record, parts of Canada are lacking snow, while we here in Europe are in deep freeze.

With spring nowhere in sight for weeks to come, I need to relish in the beauty of the snow. And it is easy actually. My irritation level is mainly raised right after the heavy snow fall, just before the roads are cleared. As soon as I can again drive my car safely, I find the snow covered landscape pleasing to the eye, making the days last longer and feel lighter.

Today I noticed all the shapes in the snow. The geometrical, clean patterns, straight lines or random formations, that the cover creates. Together with small imprints left behind by animals and humans, they are a subtle reminders of life, and a proof of movement, in such a contrast to the tranquility and stillness of the snow itself.

February 05, 2010

Flashback Friday: "Mamma Maria".

I was fifteen years old. Spending July in the archipelago just outside the city of Gothenburg in Sweden with my aunt, I can very much recall the pristine, but rugged beauty of the northern islands. The sound of "Mamma Maria" could be heard on all the Swedish (and the European) radio stations, while the feel of this melody was in such a contrast to my Scandinavian surroundings. It was one of the greatest hits of the summer in 1982 - catchy, happy, filled with appealing harmonies and the italian language made it sound exotic and sensual. Even though I did not understand a word of it, it sounded so beautiful.

Ricchi e Poveri is one of the most famous Italian pop music groups in Europe and Latin America. Active since the late 1960s, they have sold over 20 million records, recorded in Italian and Spanish. Solely responsible for some of the most popular Italian songs of the 80s and 90s such as "Mamma Maria", "Se m'innamoro", "Made in Italy" and I guess their greatest hit "Sarà perché ti amo", they appear almost iconic today.

Still, despite the multitude of compilations, the below is my favorite one of them all. Every time I hear I am transported back almost thirty years in an instant.

That is the everlasting power of a melody.

February 04, 2010

Dreaming Of Turquoise and Golden.

This Tuesday brought us more snow. Tons of it. As I was gazing out at the falling snowflakes, the storm kept dumping inches and inches of new snow everywhere.

It looked absolutely beautiful, I agree.

BUT - somewhere deep inside, I could feel the beginning of a certain longing, one which is only going to intensify in strength by each coming week. And in about two months, this longing will manifest itself with all the powerful force, which it will have harvested during this waiting time.
A longing for sun and the sea.
The longing for summer.

Thus, the coming cold weeks will find me dreaming of blue green coloured sea and white beaches, while my reality will be far removed from these pleasing images.
In my daydreams though, I am free to travel to the most visually stunning corners of the world, to the hidden tropical coves, forgotten islands and lonely bays, in search of virtual sunshine.

And the clip below helps.
I dedicate it to everyone who is just about to have had it with the snow.

February 03, 2010

"Well Travelled".

Railway Cottage is the appealing name of a wonderful blog, written by Kath. I love her endearing style as she describes her creative life in a wonderful cottage with her family and her pets.

A few weeks ago, Kath hosted a give away. A give away with a riddle. She posted a series of pictures of one of her cats and asked us to guess what the initials; D.P, that made up the cats name, stood for. On the pictures, one could see a very cute, white cat with irregular black spots. The winner would receive a lovely tea towel with images of different cat breeds.

I am always ready for a challenge and even though I rarely (never) win, I thought I would give this a try. Very quickly I did realize though that this challenge was harder than I thought and going in the same directions as many others, guessing anything from dots, dotty to dark patch, I decided to get help from the most clever man I know.
My Irishman.

As I introduced him to Kath's page, he took one look at the site and within seconds proclaimed "Disruptive Pattern. As in camouflage." Yes indeed, I knew in an instant this was correct and immediately posted my winning answer in the comment section on Kath's post. I think she enjoyed the way the guessing came about as much as me, and she also later explained why the cats name was D.P.

But, this story is not over yet. Kath posted the parcel containing my prize on the 12th of last month. She only lives about 1000 km west of me and the normal delivery time should be about three days. Five days at the most. When two weeks passed and the parcel still did not arrive, we were both getting slightly worried.
As the third week was reaching its end, I considered the possibility that I misspelled my address or that the package simply got lost. How unfortunate, but these things do happen.

My hope was slowly fading, but then last Friday the package was waiting in the mailbox for me as I got home from work. As I looked upon the stamps next to the address label, it became very quickly obvious to me why the delivery extended to almost twenty days.
Next to a perfectly clear, readable and very correct address, a big postal stamp all across the label stated:

Missent To Vancouver, B.C. CANADA
Envoyee Par Erreur A Vancouver, B.C. CANADA

I was laughing out loud reading this. The parcel surely traveled half way around the world to get here. Instead of 1000 km, it traveled almost 17 000 km. "Well Travelled" as Kath put it in her mail. And ain't that the truth.

February 02, 2010

Winter Sunrise.

The slight increase in our daylight these days means that the sun is not just setting later, but it is rising earlier and earlier each day as well.

Last week, for the first time since last October, I woke up to a true imminent sunrise. The sky in the southeast was on fire. As the world was coming alive and gearing up for the fast paced motion of daily life, I remained still for an instant.
Watching the calm ocean in the distance, in such an obvious contrast to the stress of the morning commute, I relished in the moment of absolute tranquility, as the rising sun drenched the neighbourhood in a fragile winter morning light...

February 01, 2010

From Fair To Stormy.

Last week we experienced an unusual change in air pressure. According to the meteorologists, the variation in atmospheric pressure was unique in its extend. Within 24 hours, the pressure fell from 1044 hPa down to 990 hPa, a rare fall of more than 50 hPa.

I have an old barometer that I purchased, I believe, in Best (Home Furnishing) while living in North Carolina. It is combined with a thermometer and hygrometer as well, the last measuring the humidity of the air. I could clearly follow the fall in pressure as the indicator on the middle dial kept moving from fair to stormy.

I find it quite intriguing that the air which surrounds us and feels light and weightless actually has a certain mass. The force of the weight that it displays upon a certain area is what is called the air pressure. The air can also be compressed, that is the tiny particles, or molecules of various gases take up less room and thus the pressure elevates, or vice-versa.
The standard atmosphere (symbol: atm) is a unit of pressure and is defined as being equal to 101,325 Pa or 101.325 kPa, which corresponds to the weight of 14.696 lbs/sq2 (1.0333 kg/cm2) and is the average air pressure at sea level. This means hundreds of pounds of pressure are pressing at us from all sides and at all times. We are able to survive this pressure because the air in our bodies is under the same pressure as outside us. However, it can happen that the air around us can change suddenly and our bodies might not follow, such as when we ascent or descend in a plane. This is why we feel our ear pop, as our bodies try to equalize the difference.

Air pressure can also help us forecast the weather as well. If a high pressure system is on its way, this means cooler temperatures and clear skies. If a low pressure system is coming, the weather will be warmer, accompanied by storms and rain. Which is exactly what happened with our weather last week; we went from beautiful sunny day to a dreadful winter storm just within a course of twenty four hours.