December 24, 2012

Wonderful Moment In Time...

For the first time in years do I get to celebrate Christmas with children.
There is that wonderful atmosphere in the air, the one that the mind of a child brings to this time of the year - the sense of utter enchantment and anticipation and that special joy that the adult mind lacks.
Yet the one that is so very contagious...

Sneaking away from the busy preparations, I would like to wish you all, my dear friends, the same moments of wonder and joy that are saturating my world today.

from my home to yours

December 21, 2012

The Reign Of Night.

The day of the winter solstice is a time of celebration for all of us here in the cold North. It indicates a conclusion of the reign of Night and the end of the period of perpetual twilight, which has ruled our world for the past many months.

The shortest day is upon us - yet slowly, by each week, light will commence its return, signifying that the best lies ahead.

Nevertheless, until the reign of light fully announces its presence, we take comfort in another kind of illumination - the multitude of candles that spread joy and create that one of a kind atmosphere throughout our homes, signaling that Christmas is almost here.

December 15, 2012

Reflections In Snow.

View From Our Kitchen
I sit once again in my favorite spot, in our kitchen, looking out onto the bare birch tree, as it stands so very still in the snow. I try to savour the stunning wintry images as much as I can. Despite the fact that the alabaster blanket is several feet deep, a major thaw is on its way, robbing us most likely of all hope for a white Christmas.

I have mixed feelings about snow - driving in it is a true nightmare and the adrenaline rush cutting through my body as the car wheels start sliding uncontrollably is the most terrifying feeling imaginable. Add some evening fog to the mix and I become paralyzed with fear. Night fog is in my opinion the most horrid condition to drive in. Especially thick fog banks that come out of nowhere and force me to slam on the brakes as I suddenly hit a wall of total nothing and visibility of zero.

Views During My Daily Drive
Thus in the past two weeks, following snow storms that made it impossible for me to set out onto my long daily commute, I have been confided to the house for some days here and there. Yet, as the roads cleared and the sun came out, the drive to work turned into an enchanting and visually stunning experience and the views of the snowy landscape touched me almost to tears...
Therefore I will truly miss the snow, as it illuminates the darkest months of the year, creating so much beauty. Almost every morning this past week as I sat behind the wheel, the only though occupying my mind was "I wish I had my camera with me and I wish I could stop and capture all this endless brilliance of nature and winter at its very best..."

With barely a week left to Christmas I wonder where the time is going.
I find myself so out of it and am becoming increasingly disorganized.
I, who used to live by routines and had every week meticulously planned in advance am now living from day to day, where my reality is improvised and spontaneous. My life is a wonderful mess and there is an intensity in it that makes me feel alive.
Carrying boxes with our Christmas ornaments out of our garage the other day, falling knee deep into the pristine snow in the process, the sight of the garage interior made me gasp. So much stuff! And it all has to be sorted out, packed into boxes or disposed off within the next month. It will be a difficult task to do in the midst of a cold winter.
Perhaps the thaw that is coming is after all heaven send.

Our Decorations Detail
Later, when I decorated the house, it struck me that this was the last time I did so here. Next December, I will be decking the halls in our new home. As always, I felt nostalgia grasping my heart - every ending is sentimental and everything that concludes usually comes across as bittersweet, no matter how much we look forward to what is to come.

Sometimes I lie awake late at night, when everything is so very still. My mind starts racing, my thoughts run like wild horses. Facing two mortgages in the future, how will that go?
Being a landlord, I am still connected to my past through the white house on the hill. It is an odd feeling, knowing there is a property out there that belongs to me on paper, yet which I never see, only maintain. Here and there something breaks and I am asked to repair it, which means I make a call and a craftsmen is send to the house. It has been months since I last visited the property that I own. The other day, sending a Christmas card to my tenant, writing my old address yet another name on the envelope, I experienced a truly surreal moment...

Our Entrance
For most of my adult life, I have been alone.
Every problem, every decision, every hurdle - I had to overcome them and solve them on my own. That notion still envelops my being and I still become anxious and apprehensive about the difficulties that the future holds.
Yet as time moves on, I am slowly learning to live in the present, something my husband is greatly proficient at. His smiling face and loving arms reassure me at all times that I am no longer alone.

Taking risks and taking action -  these are what brings us forward, enriching our experiences and our perception. However hard it is for me to accept that the uncertainty of the future is the only certainty there truly is, simultaneously I am realizing that this very fact is the essence of a rich, full life in progress.

View Of Our Backyard

December 09, 2012

In Ivory.

There is nothing more enchanting than the first snow.
December snow is the most alluring precipitation, creating christmas card like atmosphere, adding to the the spirit of the Holidays.

We have been under a heavy snow blanket for over a week, as the first few snowstorms of the year swept over the country - the latest one last night - leaving us with stunning views of a winter wonderland. Yesterday the weather gods granted us a short break, with clear skies and a fragile sunshine, beckoning us to set out on a short drive through the white landscape.
The soft winter sun momentarily drenched nature in a platinum light, making the snow sparkle and the contrast between the alabaster white fields and the azure blue December sky so very obvious.

The ivory views passing the cars window clearly reinforced the fact that we have stepped into the third season and the reign of Lady Winter has truly commenced.

(All images in this post are taken with my iPhone through the windows of our car.)

December 02, 2012

Everything Is Illuminated.

As we step into December, the weather has turned bitterly cold and the first snow of the season has fallen - as if on cue - with the onset of the first winter month.
Embarking on my long commute after work the other day, three hours into a dark winter evening, I left the traffic of a busy metropolis behind and set out onto the deserted freeway. Driving along, I experienced a sudden sense of enchantment.
The darkness subsided and the full moon peaking occasionally through the clouds cast an alluring silver light onto the road ahead, while my favorite musical piece kept playing in the background.

I felt as if suddenly everything was illuminated.

Thus yet another unforgettable moment formed in my perception - an occurrence that is fairly common these days.

My dreams and hopes are all slowly become reality and the future indeed seems bright.
In a couple of months we will begin the process of moving into a new house - a place that will become our home.

Sitting in our lawyers office this past week, getting through the last administrative paperwork before signing the dead, my mind went through a short flashback to almost exactly a decade ago.
Seated in a similar office, in a another part of the country, I was signing a deed to my very first house, the white house on the hill, having an entirely different future planned ahead off me. I never thought then that ten years down the road I would be embarking on a novel journey once again. I find this to be the most alluring aspect of life - not knowing what the future holds.
One thing remains the same though - I feel equally excited about the prospect of the purchase as I did then. When we walked into our house for the first time, both me and my husband, without any communication between us, knew in our hearts we have found our home.

Giving in to the wave of changes, I have taken the decision to change my citizenship.
It is an important step, one that I take gladly, but one that is leaving me full of nostalgia.
I am giving up a country where I was not born and where I have not lived for over two decades, yet where I spend twelve very important and formative years. It is a country that took my family in and gave us shelter and a promise of a better future. It was where I spend a blissful childhood, where I went to school, where I had my first home and my first employment. It is where I made the friends I still have in my life and where the foundation was laid to who I am today.
Thus I take this step with a sense of apprehension, even though there is no doubt in my mind that my decision is the right one. After "belonging" to one country almost all my adult life, despite my many moves and relocation - I guess I have finally found a reason to belong elsewhere. I have found a reason to lay down my hat right here.
I have finally found my home.

Indeed, everything is illuminated, even though we are amidst the darkest time of the year. November noir has ended, becoming replaced by December brightness - not just defined by the shine of the full moon, but by all the twinkling, ornate lights adoring houses and lining the roads and the multitude of candles burned throughout the Scandinavian homes.
I have always loved this time of the year, when this undefined yet so tangible and unified joy settles all across my world.
Still, never before have I enjoyed the onset of the Holidays more than I do today.

Love, family and home - these are the blessings that define Christmas and currently these make up the very core of my life and are the shinning beacons that illuminated my heart. 
Each and every day is precious and even the darkest winter night is suddenly full of light.

November 25, 2012

Crayola Sky.

Late fall equals perpetual twilight in Scandinavia.
Our days have lost about ten hours since the summer solstice and this can certainly be perceived.

Yet as always, even the darkness brings moments of absolute enchantment.
If the weather conditions are right, over the course of the next couple of months, I will be once again granted the privilege to watch stunning sunrises as I set out on my daily commute.

Below is a selection of crayola skies - alluring works of art painted by an unseen artist upon dawn, as they passed my windows in recent mornings, dispersing momentarily the feel of everlasting dusk.

November 18, 2012

November Noir.

Fall is slowly concluding and the fiery glow of the ostentatious season is now only a memory. Instead, the outlines of trees stand naked, dark and ominous against a milky sky, their branches damp and still, resembling almost menacing silhouettes.
The remains of foliage and long gone bloom turns putrefied, instigating a sense of decay.

Late fall melancholy is by now truly apparent. To me it comes across as an intermission, a moment of stillness and tranquility that stands between the flamboyance of colours and the illumination of the Holiday Season.

I have been somewhat absent, in my writing and in my on-line life, for which I apologize. I do still ponder the bigger questions and I do still notice the enchantment around me, I only need more time to convey it in words and pictures to all of you you.
There are continuously issues that occupy my thinking, such as the fact that I find myself increasingly disenchanted with my line of work, a sensation that started a couple of years back and which only grows in intensity by each passing day.
I find this puzzling - that which once defined me and brought me happiness feels now as a burden and has lost its allure all together.

Is it midlife crises, I wonder, or is it I who have changed...
I feel a deep longing to realize old dreams, using my creative abilities, devoting what remains of my working life to an occupation that is novel and better suited the new me.
Curiously, life never works fully on all levels - if it did, I guess we would be done living it.

My reality evolves constantly and for someone who has lived by predictable routines for decades, I find the ongoing growth curiously reassuring. My husband's children are spending increasing amount of time with us, which changes the dynamic of our lives. It is a challenge on all levels, as I am thrown into parenthood of three teenagers, having never hold them in my arms as babies. Trying to be their friend and guardian and yet at the same time guiding them with gentle but firm rules as a stepmother is a balancing act of a novel kind. Yet as I refine my skills, the rewards are of indescribable measures - they are the children I will never have and their love and devotion surpasses all my expectations.

A move to a new house is now slowly becoming reality and soon we will be finally having a home of our very own where we can live as a family, with a sense of privacy and safe continuity. Thus as I look out onto our misty garden, I wonder whether this is the last November noir I am witnessing outside my windows in this old house. So much emotions and changes has undergone between its walls in such a short time. I know I will miss it in a certain way...

Nature is indeed winding down. It is entering a deep sleep, discarding the old and shriveled, renewing itself from within, in order to emerge reborn and revitalized a few months down the road.
This is a contagious rejuvenation, that applies to everything living, us humans too. Most likely when winter turns into spring, my own life will be reborn in a new place.

Late fall is in my perception always defined by one single masterpiece; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21.
Thus when I look into the mist, I can hear piano and strings of violins, giving the melancholy of November a truly poetic, symbolic and almost meditative feel.

November 10, 2012

Untamed Waters.

Taking a walk along the pristine beaches in the proximity of my home, I am once again reminded of the incredible power of the North Sea.
Watching the surf, the crushing waves bring to mind the run of wild horses, untamed animals in all their feral beauty.
The arctic wind, the salty aerosol, the incredibly enchanting sights of colours and shapes, the roaring sound - they all are the make up of an awe invoking allure of nature.
Yet walking there, hand in hand with a lover, one can not imagine a warmer and safer place...

(All images here taken this week at the North Sea, during our short, romantic getaway.:) 

November 02, 2012

Frost Adorned.

November comes across as a very nostalgic month.
In my native language it carries a poetic name, loosely translated as leaf-fall. Indeed, during the next few weeks, our trees will be robbed of their ornate attire, until they stand bare, instigating a sense of sadness, almost melancholy.

This penultimate month of the year makes me feel as if we are standing between seasons.
Autumn is slowly concluding and the fiery colours are vanishing, being replaced by grey scale and monochrome. The daylight turns into twilight and the dry air becomes cold, damp and misty.

However, as winter closes in, once in a while we wake up to a subtle platinum dawn, revealing frozen landscape - that first preview of what is to come a few weeks down the road.

Continuing my fascination with macro-photography, I tried to immortalize the first frost on our lawn this past week, as it adorned the remains of summer bloom and intensified the contour of fallen foliage.
The views came across as a time-warp, bridging three seasons into a moment of delicate natural beauty, only visible to an early riser, vanishing upon the gentle touch of the fragile morning sun.

October 26, 2012

Fallen Angels.

Sitting in our kitchen, I watch the birth of a new day, knowing that the pink horizon will very soon burst into a glow of light.

We are way past mid-fall and nature is at its flamboyant best, the turning foliage shinning bright in the light of the first sun rays.
The ultimate showdown in colours is in my part of the world intense and fleeting. Yet every few years the display is simply more vibrant. This autumn thus falls into that category and currently my commute to work is undertaken through painted landscape. The views passing my windows outdo each other in brilliance and parade by in nuances of fire, copper and gold.

I am alone again, facing two weeks of solitude. My husband is in sunny California, refurbishing his skydiving skills as a part of his occupation.
His absence comes across as a doubled-edged sword.

On one hand it is a welcomed intermission from my novel life. That busy, messy, hectic, disorganized and unplanned yet so life-affirming and joyful existence that I have grown to love. Knowing this seclusion is only temporary, I find my alone time highly revitalizing.

With this said though, I dislike to be separated from my husband. I absolutely love to be in his presence and when he is not by my side, my world crumbles. Additionally, as much as his skills and his profession fascinate me and carry a great deal of appeal, attraction and pride in my eyes, they also give rise to a constant concern and worries, causing me to succumb to moments of distress and even occasional panic.
This is an area of my reality I still need to work plenty on, trying to learn to accept that which I can not change, facing the unknown with courage and being the strong woman my man deserves by his side.

Thus trying to pass the time - and actually enjoying to be having enough of it for once - I do what what makes me happy. I again find my solace in nature, photographing the flamboyant fall beauty that surrounds me, while I write down my thoughts and impressions fueled by my solitude. I finally also have the opportunity to compile the multitude of images that I have accumulated over the past months, spending hours cataloging these, creating photo books and calendars, the Christmas gifts that my family - near and extended - love to receive.

Among my many photographs are hundreds of macro images of fuchsias, captured recently in the garden of my father in law. These enchanting plants are his passion and pride, adoring his property in hanging baskets or in pots, creating oases of stunning beauty.

At extreme close up, the dazzling flowers of the plant resemble small, fragile dancing ballerinas, swaying in the air, flaunting their multicoloured, ravishing dresses. The texture of the blossom comes across as almost textile - soft velvet and silk.

While immortalizing these delicate creations of nature, I noticed that some of the blossom has fallen to the ground. Upon closer look, mesmerizing artwork unfolded in my view and my camera lens. The flowers fell randomly, yet their positions felt prearranged, as if an unseen artist walked there before me. Resembling fallen angels, sleeping among autumn leaves and moss, their colours only intensified against the earthy canvas, creating masterpieces of epic proportions.

Just like in life, the most enchanting beauty is hidden from view, only to be discovered if we look deeper, look closer, look from a different angle and look differently.