July 26, 2010

Education At The Dinner Table.

My parents are visiting me this week. As my family - near and extended - is spread all over the continent, the moments we get to spend together are few and far between. Thus I cherish every single second when we do.
Their presence bring back sentimental memories of times gone by. It seems like it was only yesterday when I lived at home with them and my sister. But after closer contemplation I realize, I have been living on my own longer then I ever did with my family. Or anyone else for that matter.

I guess I enjoy being alone to a certain extend, but there are times when I miss having a family of my very own. And the good and the bad that comes with it. I yearn for the company of my partner on every day bases and the idea of having children, filling the empty space with laughter and life, giving the future a certain higher purpose.
To this day, what I miss the most about my childhood, my teens and my early adulthood; all spent at home - are dinners and weekend breakfast at our dinner table. The best time of the day on a school night was when my mother would shout "Dinner!" and we would all gather around the table, as the evening settled over the city. We would dine, but always talk as well, discussing everything between haven and earth, while recollecting our day, joking and laughing. Even better were weekend mornings, when we slept in late and had no school or work to go to. Weekend mornings that very soon turned into noons, those magical moments that I never thought I would cherish so one day.

Most of what I needed to know about life, the magic of living and how to handle its ups and downs came from those discussion at the dinner table. All the strenght that I felt I possessed when I set out to conquer the world was born at the gathering at the table with my family; something that seemed so very ordinary then, but came to have a profound impact on my adulthood.

Perhaps just like the ancient or even primitive man, sitting around the campfire, feeling the security and warmth of not just the fire itself, but the connection with the individuals that surrounded it; the best start in life, the most important education in and about life - comes from the family itself.

July 24, 2010

Bloom Of The Meadows.

My favourite summer flowers are the wild ones, which cover the wide meadows and plains, like precious gems adoring the fields of green. Those that grow unrestricted and free, in need of no care or attention, soaking up the sun, bursting with colours and gentle beauty.

Behind my house, within my views is a grassy, shared but secluded area that we consider our backyard. Park like and tranquil, it offers so much beauty in the different seasons. In autumn, it is painted with fiery shades of the turning foliage of birch trees and ripen berries. In winter, serene, sleeping quietly under the blanket of pristine snow, invoking the sense of rest. And in spring, sprinkled with dandelions and blooming shrubs and trees, it becomes an oases in colour and light.
Finally, during the time of the subtle summer months, it is lush and inviting. Full of wild flowers and sweet summer berries, buzzing with the sound of insects and the elegance of butterflies. Birch trees offer soothing shade away from the sun, while their full crowns sway in the breeze, creating that melodic sound that instigates the feel of content.

I took a short walk with my camera in our backyard yesterday in the late morning, documenting its July splendor, reflected in the bloom of wild flowers and the richness of insect life. The sun was already high in the sky, enveloping the trees in a gentle white light. The neighborhood was quiet and still and occasionally, the sweet singing of the lark, that very significant sound of the Scandinavian summer, played softly in the balmy air above me.

Closing my eyes, I laid down in the warm grass as I tried to capture this moment with all my senses, locking it firmly in my perception. It is mental snapshots such as these that I will revisit in my mind in a few months, when darkness and cold will rule my world.

(Please click image for larger view.)

July 22, 2010

Winter In Summer - And - The Future.

I am combining a few challenges bestowed upon me by my blog friends, in this one post. I have been tagged in the past, but I have also inflicted the tags upon myself voluntarily, as they seem as inspiring as any theme posts can be. I actually enjoy doing tags and memes, in fact, I once wrote a post on the origins of tags, as I find the whole subject somewhat intriguing.

Enough of that, now let me offer an explanation as to the arctic winter pictures here to the left and below.
You see, my very good friend Kat at Kat's Corner posted a challenge about six month ago, as some of you might recall. She urged us to post our favorite summer pictures in mid winter. Obviously at that time everyone was longing and dreaming of summer and we all happily shared pictures captured during the warm time of the year, me included.
This time around, she did the reverse; cooling us down with some fairy-tale like snow pictures in the midst of this vibrant, hot and sunny season.

Now, I am not greatly fond of winter at all, but considering that the summer has been hot and sunny all across the whole Northern hemisphere this year, I decide to join in and share with you some pristine and chilly pictures from our past winter, which was the coldest one in 15 years.
Do you recall our Arctic Beach? Icy cold wind and subzero temperatures for weeks at a time caused our sea to freeze over, a very rare phenomenon. When I took these photographs here this past February, I felt that the winter would NEVER end. I stood on this deserted beach, completely alone, my fingers numb, as the summer felt distant and surreal. Yesterday, trying to take a picture of the same spot on my way home from work, I could barely get to the shore, as the beach even in the evening at eight was filled to the bursting point with people. Everyone kept staring at me as I looked somewhat silly (and suspicious) walking around fully clothed with a camera.

I was surprised at the outcome. In a certain way, the winter picture appears so much more enigmatic and enticing (please see images below). Thus, I felt that these pictures were worth sharing here again; stressing the point that summer, however lovely and beautiful, does not always produce better images.

As for the award here to the right; my thanks and appreciation goes to sprinkles at Wyldechylde, who passed it onto me recently. I am always flattered by this attention.
This wonderful prize comes with a question:

Where do you think you will be in 10 years?

That is an intriguing one to ponder. I truly do not know. If anyone asked me ten years ago where I will be today, I would have never given the answer of my current status. My life was heading in a completely different direction then and changed suddenly just a few years back. Thus, when that time comes, I am hoping I am in good health and that I will be with someone who I love and who loves me.
The rest truly doesn't matter and in a way; not knowing - and not pondering it - is the allure of living in the present.

Anyone who is up for any of these challenges, please feel free to be tagged.

July 21, 2010

Noctilucent Clouds.

During the summer months in Scandinavia, a very peculiar phenomenon can be observed at times in the night sky. If the conditions are right, the twilight heavens are illuminated by light, shining clouds. Such was the occasion this past week. As I was getting ready to turn in for the night, closing the living room window, a sight of pearlescence in the sky - resembling platinum glowing waves - greeted me.

Called Noctilucent Clouds, these consist of ice crystals and are the highest known clouds in the atmosphere. Positioned in the mesosphere at altitudes of around 76 to 85 kilometers - literally at the edge of space - they are not fully understood and are a recently discovered meteorological phenomenon; there is no evidence that they were observed before 1885.

Noctilucent clouds can be seen by observers at a latitude of 50 to 65 degrees and seldom at lower latitudes. Occurring during summer, from mid-May to mid-August in the northern hemisphere and between mid-November and mid-February in the southern hemisphere, they are very faint and tenuous, and can only be spotted in twilight at sunrise or sunset in the north cardinal direction. At this time the clouds of the lower atmosphere are in shadow and the noctilucent clouds are illuminated by the sun.

This was my second sighting, much better then the one I observed last June, particularly as the position of the clouds occurred in my immediate view to the north-northwest, on the still sunset coloured night sky.

To those who found this subject intriguing; please visit this audio slideshow on BBC page.

(Please click the image below for a larger view)

July 19, 2010

Challenging The Intellect.

When I was young, philosophy did not interest me. Likewise, I found very little amusement in discussing current events, politics or psychology. I used to listen with awe to my peers, mostly males, who digested these subjects with a fiery passion in school, whether in class or on their breaks.
No, I rather escaped into the world of fantasy and imagination. Whether among pages of books or the silver screen, or by painting and drawing for hours, reflecting my dreams on canvas or paper.

Growing older, I have also grown to crave intellectual stimulation and a need to constantly question my surrounding and the world we live in. I guess in some way, as we mature, our own existence and the origins to everything we see become of interest, as we try to find our own solution to the ever lasting enigma of who we are, where did we come from and where we are going. Or; did the egg come before the chicken...?

Recently I contemplated the idea of the paradox, a source of endless discussion, study and observation. Paradox simply explained is a situation in which something seems both true and false. A contradiction, if you will. At times, the term is also used about surprising situations or dilemmas.

There is a variety of paradoxes and they are even sorted into lists, depending on the subject or theme. Some of them are fantastically intriguing to ponder, making my head spin and my brain cells work on overload, until I give up as I simply can not grasp the concept. Furthermore, discussing paradoxes can lead to quiet stimulating conversations. And the best cinematography - whether the film is of a science fiction nature or not - is in my opinion based on the subject of paradoxes.

Here are my favorites:

Grandfathers Paradox.The grandfather paradox has been used to argue that backwards time travel must be impossible. In short, the paradox contains this statement: You travel back in time and kill your grandfather before he conceives one of your parents, which precludes your own conception and, therefore, you couldn't go back in time and kill your grandfather.

Predestination Paradox. Another time travel paradox, dealing with the irreversible effect on the future, while traveling back in time; A man travels back in time to discover the cause of a famous fire. While in the building where the fire started, he accidentally knocks over a kerosene lantern and causes a fire, the same fire that would inspire him, years later, to travel back in time.

Ship Of Theseus. This is a paradox that raises the question of whether an object which has had all its component parts replaced remains fundamentally the same object. It seems like you can replace any component of a ship, and it will still be the same ship. So you can replace them all, one at a time, and it will still be the same ship. But then you can take all the original pieces, and assemble them into a ship. That, too, is the same ship with which you started.

(Note: All images used in this post complimentary of photobucket.com)

July 17, 2010

Gentle Bloom.

Ever since the beginning of this beautiful month of July, we have experienced heatwave after heatwave, with warm, sunny skies. Plenty of sunshine, record breaking temperatures and very little rain.
Even though I rejoice in this kind of weather, the nature around seems to appear somewhat tired, in lack of a better word. It lacks that youthful freshness and bounce, that I am so accustomed to see.
This is reflected all around me, even in my own garden. I feel my plants are somewhat gentle this summer, in respect to bloom.

Thus may patio displays multitude of green this season, but the flowering is sparse. It is lush and inviting, but the bloom is absent. Even my Jasmine and Honeysuckle that were bursting with abundant flowers just a year ago display only a flower here and there.
While I wait for the indigo blue of my Jackmanii clematis, which is covered with imminent buds, I decided to share with you that subtle and gentle bloom that adores my garden right now. This includes, among others, the beauty of Lavender, Jasmine, Honeysuckle, Niobe clematis, Roses and Tomatoes.

I manged to capture one delightful image of a busy bumblebee, enjoying the nectar of my yellow tomato bloom. I have noticed - with great sadness - the incredible absence of both bumblebees and bees this year. I miss their melodic buzzing that at all times brings joy to my heart and soul. I am unaware of the reason to their small numbers, but I guess (and hope) this is due to the prolonged and strong winter that proceeded our summer season...

Despite the lack of insect life and bloom in my garden so far, I take consolation in the fact that the timid alpha cat of the neighbourhood, a.k.a Tiger, finds great solace on my patio. I have found him sound asleep underneath my spriraea bushes on many occasions. Taking naps in the afternoons, he seems to enjoy our hot summer just as much as I do.

July 15, 2010

Serene Summer Evenings.

Summer is my favorite season, without a doubt. The light evenings, the warm days, wind still nights and dewy mornings. The world feels quiet a different place in the middle of the year - it is as if a collective happiness settles all around. Everything seems brighter and lighter, problems and worries are far removed.

As much as I love to sit by my fireplace in the winter time, while dreaming myself away as I gaze into the dancing flames, my favorite place to be every evening during weekdays in the summers is by my large living room window.

As soon as I get home and greet Batcat, I need to remove the troubles of my working day by pouring myself a glass of sparkling white wine and opening my living room windows, revealing breathtaking views of green nature, misty horizon and in time; the setting sun. I take off my shoes and let my hair down, lighting a few incense sticks, I sit back and listen to the classic masterpieces by great composers from the past. The sounds and the scents, together with the cool taste of the wine and the warmth of the setting sun does wonders. Relaxing my body and soul and bringing true serenity to my whole being...

Do you have a favorite spot to relax?

July 14, 2010

Writing Interlude.

After almost three weeks of absence, I am returning with a short writing interlude. My intentions were to stay away completely until the end of this month and even perhaps longer, as I am about to do some traveling in August and I am still to welcome some more family visits in my white house on the hill. But I simply miss blogging.

Even though I relished in being blog free initially - forgetting about posting completely - this past weekend my longing to write has returned. Almost everywhere I go, I compose posts in my mind and I take mental photographs of everything I see and experience around me. I miss writing this online diary and therefore, even though for only a short while, I am back. Forgive me though if it will take me some time to catch up with all of you, however I intend to do my very best in that department.

I have had the privilege to spend some of these past three weeks in the company of a lovely visitor and my favorite gentleman; Mr. Summer, which has been bestowing upon us hot and sunny weather, a true recipe for happiness.

When I have visitors, I turn into a tourist myself, traveling around in my immediate vicinity, discovering hidden spots of beauty and history, not far away from my own doorstep. Combined with gorgeous weather and splendid company, time always seems to fly way too fast...