An Easter Greeting

Good morning my dear readers. It’s Good Friday and the rest of the house is quiet apart from our freezer humming in the room next to me, and there is a subtle whoosh of water going through the radiators. I just settled in in front of my screen with a mocha coffee. For Christmas last year Jay and I got one of those one-cup coffee machines for ourselves, and ever since I have been almost addicted to using a shot of dark chocolate in my first cup of coffee every day. I have consciously been trying to reduce my caffeine intake, though, especially at night. Some days it works, some days not so well. I read that if you have trouble with your thyroid, caffeine is not good. A couple of regular sized cups a day is all right, but on average I drink way more than that so I thought I would try to cut down, at least until I know whether or not an underactive thyroid is what is causing my tiredness and anemia.

Before I write anything else I really want to say thank you all for the so, so lovely comments on my last post. I know I might be silly thinking this way, but somehow I always end up feeling that with having become so inactive on my blog, and taking forever to reply to comments, I somehow don’t deserve anyone’s attention. I have made friends over the years with whom I have lost contact because I am so terrible at keeping in touch. It’s hard to explain to someone I know why I get like that — it never has anything to do with that I don’t care for them or don’t value their friendship. After a while I feel so incredibly dumb for declining invites over and over, and somehow trying to explain why leaves me feeling like I fraud. I want to get better at this, though, because I do understand silence and avoidance only leaves the other person wondering and questioning if they are at fault. This happened just recently and it gave me a thorough shake and a kind of eye-opener. Any state of depression or exhaustion is a lonely place; I like to have my own space but this loneliness is so very different than choosing retreat when I just need to refuel. Instead of consciously craving to be alone I want closeness but can’t reach out. It’s like becoming trapped in my own misery. I drown in it. The shame takes over and makes that distance all the more difficult to cross. Can you recognise the feeling?

in-my-walking-clothes

To write down how I feel, and to try and paint a picture of what it’s like on the inside is somehow so much easier when I write a blog post. I really wonder why that is. Of course, the language is one factor — I may be able to speak Finnish well, and I have heard so many times how good I am at speaking the language, but it’s only in general conversation. I have no idea what words to use or how to converse about emotional topics in Finnish. Several years ago when I went to therapy, I got to speak with a therapist who knew Swedish. When that wasn’t an option I switched to English when I couldn’t express myself in Finnish. I have actually thought about this a lot lately, that maybe one side to how I am feeling is that I am a foreigner. I may have lived in Finland on and off for ten years now, but I can still feel totally alien. It is definitely my own fault — I have isolated myself out here on the farm and haven’t actively worked to seek a social life outside the family.

I could write so much more on this, but what I wanted (before I got carried away) was to show you that pot I painted, and to share some photos from the past week, and some from before that. The sun is getting warmer every day now and the snow is melting. I can’t tell you how absolutely divine it is to stand outside on the warmer days. Spring really is staking a claim on the earth now, and even though I have been outside so little this year, I still have many photos I haven’t shared with you yet. But first — the pot!

finished-result-of-painted-pot

close-up-of-painted-pot

I really am so happy with the results. I had many ideas on how to paint this pot, but after layering the colours I was so pleased with the texture I didn’t want to do anything else to it. It also reminded me of how much I really love working with my hands, and it has motivated me even further to fight this mind fog so I can do more. For example I have a big IKEA bag full of drift wood I brought with me to Finland last year (and even more in the garage, some up against a wall next to the office, and more in a cardboard box, haha) with which I had many plans and ideas. Some of you might remember the frame I made out of drift wood for a painting last year.

That the light (or lack thereof) can do so much to a person is something which fascinates me and leaves me in a sense of wonder. Some weeks back I sat and went through some photos. I had just come back inside from a walk around the old buildings here on the farm. It was just above zero but the snow dwindled silently and the wet flakes left me with a chill, so I didn’t linger too long. As I sat with these photos I noticed that instead of snow covering the evergreens, there were water droplets everywhere. A mixture of relief and giddiness surged through me and I almost started crying.

 

water-droplets-on-the-spruce-needles

retro-tones-and-dew

Since then we have had some really cold days, with temperatures of ten below zero or more, and others much warmer. One day we had six above. This time is almost holy to me. These fluctuations mark the end of winter and beginning of spring and it’s like every cell in my body comes alive to respond to it. At times it catches me off guard and I become so overwhelmed by the sensation tears fill my eyes. Do you experience similar things? Or is there something in particular that signifies end of winter or beginning of spring for you?

catkins

Another symbol of spring for me are the catkins. I noticed the first ones on a very cold day several weeks ago, and I was so surprised to see them there in a landscape still embedded in snow and wintry shimmer. That day was so magical, though, and I stayed outside longer than my hands could handle. The warmth of the sun on my face had me entranced. The song of birds created the most beautiful symphony mixed up with Loke’s and my own slow, crispy steps across glittering fields.

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me-soaking-up-the-sunlight

I am actually wearing my PJ pants in this photo above, haha. They have been the most comfy pants but I had to brave the shops and hunt down a new pair since the fabric has gotten so so thin. I suppose it doesn’t matter when only Jay, Lilli and Loke are around, but sometimes our kitchen or dining room becomes an office or conference area when there are meetings related to the farming business. I usually make myself scarce at those times, but I still imagine it looks odd for someone to walk around in PJ’s in the middle of the day. 😉 Especially extremely worn PJ’s. Haha

One evening when the sun stood low, I looked out toward the trees where our road leads off the farm. The most amazing light painted the tree trunks and branches in an almost fiery pink/red, and I rushed through the house to gather my camera and tripod. When I got outside, I switched direction and went for our lower fields instead, distracted by the colour in the sky. Ever since I have wanted to show you this ethereal sunset. By the time I was satisfied I had enough photos of it, the sun had dropped lower and the light was gone from the trees.

sunset-over-snowy-fields

Can you see the reflections on the snow? I was in complete awe as I stood there. It was cold but the sun still set rather quickly then, so I managed to get back inside before my fingers froze. It’s incredible how fast that changes now — how the sun’s descent slows down and graces us with these gorgeous colours for longer and longer with each day passing. I was here about a week before this photo was taken to capture the subtle grace of this late winter light. Then I found an icy wonderland behind our storage building and crept around with my tripod in the bushes to get some closeups until my hands were on fire with the cold.

icy-wonderland

icicle-magic-in-sunset

molten-ice

It was after these photos I was in so much pain I didn’t know what to do with myself. Regardless, I have to say they were worth it. With time it seems most pains subside, no matter how deeply they cut in the present, and it is in that transition I think it becomes easier to look beyond and see that even when we have been at our worst, when the nights were so dark, light was there. It kept us company. We were not alone — we never are truly alone.

icicles-on-the-roof-edge

Our house is waking up now, but before I leave I would like to wish you all a beautiful Easter, and show you a couple of photos of the flowers I bought. Getting those plants just made me want even more! 😀

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daffodils

me-and-lily-of-the-valley
Lily of the Valley might be my absolute favourite flower

Once again, thank you all so much for the inspiration you truly give me. I am also so happy and grateful for the feedback you gave me after my request in my last post, and I have already taken some photos to share together with the story of my tattoo, so that might be up next! I would also like to take this opportunity to say that if you ever think of something you would like me to write about or to photograph don’t be shy to let me know. I will try to honour most requests. ❤

Much love, hugs and a happy Easter weekend!

my-tattoo
“Strength, Courage, Wisdom” ❤
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Change And Acceptance

Hello my dearest readers. After my last post it seems like all the little workers in my mind grabbed their coats and went on holiday. Or not even that – they walked out of the office without any notice of where they were going or when they would return. Maybe it sounds a little odd, I don’t know, but it didn’t even worry me and I followed in their footsteps out the door. If I were to sum up the past few weeks with one word I would describe it as being in limbo, and it shows all around me. Piles of clothes, mountains of dishes, dust and crumbs and Loke’s hairs everywhere. Multiply that with the mess I have previously complained about times a thousand.

I have had a few milder emotional outbursts when my lids have fluttered open to take in my surroundings, but it is like even my annoyance is in a state of limbo. All that frustration I can feel when I get nothing done goes pooff before even half its usual magnitude is reached. I still don’t know whether to call this true hibernation or depression, though. All that I feel — or don’t feel — and this lack of care for the state of this house or my daily doings could also be, if going by symptoms listed on the web, called depression. The thing is I think I consciously accepted I am depleted at the start of February, and it was after that I let go and disappeared. I keep asking myself does it really matter? Do I have to put a name on it?

chilling-with-loke

However, in the past week it has become clear that I was meant to do this. Shut down, turn off, retreat. I had too much in my mind, too many wants, wishes and ideas buzzing around together with needs and pressing necessities. A jitter so loud that I couldn’t make sense of anything at all. So after I last week made an important phone call that had been eating me up from the inside out since early January, I had a moment of clarity.

At the start of the year I received a letter to let me know it was time to begin the repayments of my student loan. I have waited for this letter ever since I finished my studies in December 2016. The way it works is that after completing your studies you get one year respite. I assume it is to give you time to find a job or to do further studies, in which case you continue on as a student and loan taker and don’t have to repay anything until you are completely finished. I knew already, deep down, I wasn’t going to university, but I think somewhere underneath it all I felt an immense obligation to make something happen that would generate an income within twelve months. That obligation was in conflict with my dreams and wishes — my heart’s desire — to build my very own business on my own terms, and I think I subconsciously stuffed the entire affair further and further away from my conscious mind.

our-snowy-maple-tree

So the first instalment was due on the 28th of February, and at the end of last week I finally picked up the phone. I don’t fully get this immense issue I have with speaking over the phone. Part of it, I think, might be that I can’t see the person I am talking to, and I hear voices better if I can see the facial movements of those I speak with. Like an anchor, to connect one to the other. Without that anchor some words become muffled and I seem to miss chunks of what people are actually saying. Simply put: I lose focus when speaking with people over the phone. And somewhere amongst it all I get nervous and start shaking, my pulse goes up and I sweat, too. It really is awful. Usually I sit with the phone so hardly pressed to my ear it’s all red by the time I am done, haha. It can help to close my eyes, to cut off any external impressions that might disrupt my attention. Or I can doodle on a piece of paper. Sometimes that helps, too, but it differs from time to time, mood to mood.

The kind lady on the phone was so very helpful, though, and she walked me through an application for extension over the web. She could watch live from her end as I filled in the details and clicked my way through. When it was done she told me that CSN’s (the name of the student loan company) handling of these applications are automatic, but she could with confidence assure me my loan will now be frozen for another year. The tears welled up in an instant and I cried. Oh, I am getting all emotional again now as I write about it, but the relief I felt in that moment crashed over me like the most divine ocean wave. I think I overwhelmed her with my profuse thank you, thank you so much I am so happy. But I really was. And after I hung up an email arrived to tell me my application had been approved and that my payments for this year have been reduced to zero. Ahhh, can you tell I am so so happy? 😀

loke-showing-his-love

So as I wrote further up, I had a moment of clarity. For the first time in weeks it was like I could see in colours again, and the world didn’t seem shrouded in a haze. I really believe I had to let go of absolutely everything and get back to basics. Imagine you have collected a pile of washing into your arms, you know the one that is so big it keeps falling apart, and you actually have to peer around the mountain you embrace to see where you are going. And suddenly you can’t remember if you have collected all the sock pairs. So instead of running around the house with that tangled ball, I had to drop and spread it out over the floor to see what I actually have to deal with. Now I may have a mess spanning wall-to-wall in our home and in my life, but at least I can walk around with a clear view of it all. This loan was one of those things hidden deep within that pile, and it had festered and spread into so many areas of my life… I can’t believe I just compared a loan to socks and used the word festering. Can’t stop laughing now. 😀

Another big change is that the days are getting longer, the sun warmer, and the birds are chirping. Yesterday I took another slow stroll with Loke down our road through the fields. At first I listened only to the creak of our foot and paw steps. Loke’s made this soft and crisp resonating sound, while my own were more like crunch-crunch, haha. But then I stopped and closed my eyes, turned my face to the sun and this amazing chirp and chatter of the birds soaked right through me. Usually Loke will start sniffing around the ground, but he remained completely still by my side and I think he, too, was listening to the wakening song of the birds.

loke-in-depth-of-evergreen

manta-the-rarely-seen-farm-cat

snow-covered-farm-buildings

frozen-magic-and-an-old-silo

winter-sunlight-on-our-timber

Right now I really hope that I am waking up for real, but at the same time I feel there is still time left to consider the lessons from the past few weeks. From the past months, really. It all began last autumn, and I can’t let go of this thought that there are stages in life, and stages within those stages. Each needs to be given its own time, and it won’t matter if I don’t accept it and keep going anyway — at some point those things I choose to work even harder to squeeze whatever I can out of (or ignore completely) will make their demands.

loke-questions-what-I-am-doing

on-a-walk-with-loke

snowy-juniper-in-sunglow

I especially think of the days I have looked out the window at the magical beauty of sunshine over glittering fields and gazed with longing at the tree line beyond. And how I barely used my camera — my amazing new camera Jay got me. Not even imagining myself there among snow-laden pines and spruces gave me the strength to get up. Still, somehow, I found ways to be at peace with it. This is where I am right now, and in all probability where I need to be. I told myself this so many times during these weeks. Told myself it will pass, just like every other time previously. What I believe and fervently hope is that giving myself an abundance of time will make all the difference; to not use up the steady-but-slow refuelling process by making myself feel guilty for all this non-productivity or inactivity. This will allow my being to truly rest. It seems like the closer to empty I have been, the harder my body and mind has worked to use the little energy in my reserves. Like an engine low on oil will eventually be wrecked, like a fuel tank sputtering when running on fumes.

magical-light-in-the-forest

And little by little I have felt that pull to get up and do things, grab my camera. A couple of days I walked around outside, if only for a short while, but I was grateful for those short little moments. I could tell myself it was enough and truly feel content. At the end of the day, a knowing I’m finding hard to explain rests within me. It may be a quiet and soft whisper, but it’s an encouragement all the same. Maybe it’s that trust that is returning — the relationship I think we need to build with the world around us, that there is meaning in events that at first make no sense to us, that frustrate us or even seem like a nuisance. The events out of our control. I think of it as sailing. I know nothing about sailing, but as far as I have understood it’s about positioning the sails to work with the winds. I imagine you have to feel those winds and know how to set the sails to be able to maneuver the boat in the direction you want to go. Those winds can’t be controlled or manufactured to suit my wants or wishes. But I can give in and work with them. To accept what I can’t do and be okay with what I can do. However little it may be. It’s enough. For now, it’s more than enough.

I’m sending you all my love, and a big, warm hug.

A Magical Drive Into The New Year

After I finished picking out the photos for this post and began counting them I started laughing. Why do I even do this? I already know I have too many, so knowing how many won’t matter.

But, hello, dear ones! I am taking myself out of my social media silence and I’m putting my blogging pants on again. My holiday is over and as I write I am still recovering from a two-day drive from our farm to my parents house in the mid-north of Sweden. Usually I take the ferry between Turku and Stockholm, but not this time. Instead I braved the icy roads of Lapland (the big Lappi up north). I left at nine in the morning on Tuesday and arrived at my parents’ house at eight on Wednesday night. The tyres may have stopped their vibrating but my bones were still buzzing. I don’t know if you have experienced this (or even have the possibility, if you live where winter tyres are not needed), but some winter tyres have these tiny little metal buds on them and they are very noisy on asphalt. Additionally (apparently) they make the car vibrate? I carried all my luggage into my parents house right away, because it was seventeen below zero, and then went to lie down on the kitchen floor. Flat on my back. Arms and legs stretched out as far as I could reach. All of me was shaking and somehow a flat and solid floor beneath me was what I wanted. It was the strangest feeling.

free-running

The original plan was to leave at the end of last week, but one thing after another prevented it, so it wasn’t until Tuesday morning this week Loke and I stepped out into a crisp, hazy winter sunrise to take a few deep breaths before getting in the car. Loke took a wild dash around the farm as though he knew it would be a couple of weeks before we’re back home again. I have to say that in spite of being such a dork, Loke has immense patience. I can’t imagine anyone else being able to travel in a car with me for over twenty-four hours and not be driven to insanity by my oh-wow-look-at-that-I-have-to-stop-to-take-a-photo-oh-it’s-so-beautiful.

loke-trying-to-avoid-the-camera
Loke’s face, haha.

When I packed the car I put all our luggage into the backseat and filled up the baggage space with soft blankets and Loke’s bed. He got to travel like a king and only seemed disturbed once, at a point when my eyes seemingly stopped working and rolled around in my head until I started making loud noises while slapping my mouth. I had every intention to stop the car to have a power nap, but you know those P-pockets along the road where you can stop the car? They are nowhere to be found when you truly need them. So howling just had to do. (My dad rolls down the windows and sticks his head out if he gets tired. I was already half-icicle, though, so it wasn’t an option for me.)

evening-winter-sun

It’s quite amazing how quickly the snow cover changed and grew as I drove north. Only a couple of hours away and the blanket of snow was visibly thicker. The area we live in is called Satakunta, which I creatively will translate to the Rain Domain. In Finnish we say it either rains water or snow. There’s no actual verb for it’s snowing. I guess the Rain Domain is visited mostly by falling water. At least lately. But a little further north I began fighting the urge to stop and take photos. I knew that once I start, I can’t stop.

the-blue-road

I came across this sign that read The Blue Road. As I drove I thought about what it meant. For a while I wondered if it literally had to do with the colour of the road. In this light it really did look blue. A deep-ocean blue — you know that almost black-blue? Yesterday I consulted Google and read that its name comes from that it follows a water course all the way from Norway through Sweden and Finland, and then finally into Russia. I love to stumble across things like these. To at first, unbeknownst to facts, wonder in cluelessness of its meaning and then visit google to find out what it might actually be. I think in this day and age, with a world of knowledge at our fingertips, it’s too easy to look up answers without first getting to ask questions and ponder them in ignorance. So to me, in that moment, knowing the light here is very special this time of the year, I thought why not? Wouldn’t that have been so cool, though? A road being named by the light that hits it during the winter months.

This reminds me of something. Did you know that in Finnish, aurora borealis is called fox fire? Revontulet. I looked it up last year and found out that it comes from an old belief in the Fire Fox, a god of some kind streaking across the tundra and hitting its tail against the ground, which is what people believed ignited those fiery lights in the sky. I thought it was the most amazing tale. Honestly it touched me so deeply I spun off names in my head for a brand name for my photography. I’m letting it live its own life for now, though. I have found that these things usually come together by themselves, in their own time. One morning I will shoot up from bed and shout of course! And then I’ll know.

magical-sky-over-icy-road

beautiful-skies-and-snowy-fields

I stopped a lot in a short span of time before the sun set. The colours in the sky and the resultant light playing over the vast sheets of snow took my breath away.

fjärdens-kaffestuga

picnic-table-by-frozen-lake

Loke and I stopped by this coffee cottage (which was closing as I pulled in with the car) to have our dinner. I don’t think it was even four in the afternoon yet. I had sandwiches packed, and Loke got a bowl of dry kibbles mixed with some wet food. He eats the kibbles if he is ravenous, so to make it more attractive I mix in a little something to give it more taste. At least I imagine it tastes better. And Loke seems to enjoy it more that way.

snow-laden-trees-in-twilight

vibrant-winter-miracle-twlight-skies

When I stopped at the P-pocket to step out with my camera to photograph this sky, a big semi-truck pulled in behind me. I had to get back in to move my car forward, and then I sat a moment talking to myself out loud. I was so annoyed. Why did he have to show up right there, right now? I wanted to shoot this sky so badly, so in the end I got out and jumped into the snow to run around the truck. After that my toes didn’t unfreeze until I stepped into a scalding hot shower at the hotel in Oulu, hours later. I am so thankful Jay persisted to talk me into staying over the night somewhere and not sleeping in the car, which I said I could. Now I know I wouldn’t have, because it got really really cold. Oh, and when Loke and I arrived at the hotel room he had his very own bed waiting for him and a bag of goodies!

I wanted to sit down with my laptop that evening and write a blog post to tell you about my upcoming adventures, but after the hot shower my eyes just wouldn’t stay open. I fell asleep almost instantly as my head hit the pillow. I love that feeling. Especially after a long period of having trouble falling asleep no matter how exhausted I am.

The next morning, at six on Wednesday, I went downstairs to the breakfast buffet to eat a big breakfast. For a couple of years now soon I have been skipping breakfast — somehow I feel a big glass of water and coffee is enough. Breakfast makes me sluggish and my mind foggy, but since that buffet was included I thought I would at least give it a try. I may have overdone it, though. I ate two small deliciously crispy croissants, a little bit of yogurt with musli, and one piece of toast with salty, melted butter, marmalade, and cheese. It was so tasty and almost worth the nausea afterwards. Haha

wind-mill-turbines-in-frozen-sunrise

The drive from Oulu to Happaranda, the first little town on the Swedish side, takes about two hours — with my driving, at least. Since it was still dark when I set out I didn’t stop for more photos until I was in Sweden. This photo was taken just outside of Happaranda, and those wind mill turbines looked so mystical in the wintry haze.

I didn’t think to exchange money when I went through Happaranda. I actually got lost trying to find a clear spot to photograph the bay area in the misty sunrise. But the snow. I haven’t seen this much snow in what feels like forever. And the snow ploughs have created huge drifts and walls when ploughing the roads, so it was nearly impossible to get to a spot with a clear view. I gave up and turned the GPS on to navigate myself back onto the E4.

frozen-roads-and-snowy-forests

more-frozen-trees

The temperature meter in the car flipped out at the start of the trip, so all throughout the drive I think it showed me the temperature of the engine. As such I had no real idea of how cold it was outside. But looking at the trees in their frosted coats, I figured it was several degrees below zero.

Before lunch I decided that I needed to find a Forex to exchange money so I could have something to eat. And in case I would need to fill up the fuel tank again, even though our Volvo is very economical and has a massive tank. And I still haven’t re-fuelled it.

Google told me there was a Forex in Luleå, which is situated just a little off the E4, so I used the navigator to get me there. It was amazing to drive through the forests in this area. And the roads, though ploughed, were still white. I wish I had thought to take photos. Not only of the landscape here, but also of the city. People were out walking on the big frozen water and even cars were driving on it. They had ploughed pathways out on the lake! The thing is I got terribly lost. First my navigator took me in circles, so I had to stop in the end and walk. I went into a small food shop to ask directions, and it wasn’t until I stood at Forex that I realised I had no idea how to get back to the car! I walked the streets in search for the car on feeling alone and did find it, but in a brief moment of panic I feared Loke would freeze to death before I could find the car again.

frozen-snowy-trees

The funny thing is that by the time I got out of Luleå, I was so stressed my stomach had tied itself in knots. I could barely eat the mashed potatoes and grilled sausage I bought from the service station along the road. I ate a couple of mouthfuls, forced several more until half was gone, and then left the rest. I drove on in pain for an hour before it dissipated. I am not big on making New Year resolutions, but I have promised myself that I will truly work on being in the moment this year. Life is unpredictable. My moods are unpredictable, and they sway all over the map. Lists and hours of writing in my journal won’t change the seasons and weathers within me, nor how I really deal with them. I read through some posts from last year, took some time to re-read your comments, and I feel so blessed to have such wonderful readers. Your encouragement and your support has meant and means the world to me.

magical-light-through-wintry-birches

snow-and-more-snow

old-shack-covered-in-snow

I am also so thankful to Jay for suggesting I take a couple of weeks to myself. This Christmas was very different, yet so amazing. I got the bedroom done, finally, and then with Jay’s help we got some other cleaning projects done, but in the end he suggested we get a cover for the doorway into the anxiety room. So I bought curtains from IKEA which Dad helped me put up on the day before Christmas Eve. All of us — Mom, Dad, Jay and I did cooking for our Christmas dinner, and Jay’s mom brought some dishes, too. She made her amazing sour milk cheese. So good. Dad boggled at the amount of food laid out on the table, but when we all sat down to eat on Christmas Eve I was so happy it was finally done. I hadn’t run around like a decapitated chicken to get the house sparkling, there were still a lot of mess in some places, but we had the most wonderful time. I really shut the rest of the world out and focused on our own little unit. It was so needed.

frozen-silver-birches

more-frozen-lakes-and-forests

frozen-lake-and-snowy-forests

Now, for the next couple of weeks, I will focus on only me, my photography, and travel around this magical place of my childhood. Take your time, Jay told me. And I will. I will try my hardest to not feel guilty for indulging time away from my family to do something I love. To let go and just enjoy my own peace and quiet. To get in the car and drive to wherever, whenever. And if I don’t feel like moving an inch, then that is all right, too.

soft-winter-glow

snow-covered-spruce-in-sun-glow

low-winter-sun

I intended to write this post and share these photos yesterday, but one night of sleep didn’t help me recover from the drive, so I spent the day taking short walks with Loke up and down the road outside the house and editing all the photos from our road trip. We had twenty-one degrees below zero yesterday. The insides of my nostrils froze when I breathed, but I kind of love that feeling. It reminds me of days when my legs were shorter and my layers of clothing much thicker than now. Days I flew on skiis across the frozen river without a thought of the depths below. Careless and innocently unaware of how thick the ice is and how much weight can it really take before it breaks? It won’t give, but I still fear for it.

high-coast-bridge-in-snowy-haze

beloved-ångermanälven

I took the camera with me on our morning walk yesterday while the coffee was brewing. When I powered it up, it told me I had no memory card, so I went out again after Loke had done his business. And oh, this river. Beloved Ångermanälven. I can’t explain what it is about this place that moves my soul so deeply. Its quiet, melancholy beauty. I will spend many mornings here and just breathe in.

my-parents-house

red-panel-and-frosted-window

Today I will go into Härnösand to find myself some gloves I can use when I’m out there shooting. As of right now some fingers are still swollen from the icy love bites from these northern winds. Even in still weather the air here burrows into the skin like a thousand needles. In spite of it, I don’t feel cold. There’s something very different about walking through a couple of degrees on the plus side, sleet and black landscapes as opposed to this icy chill hovering over pastel-white mountains and valleys. I feel oddly yet pleasantly warm in its cool embrace. Only my hands suffer.

I hope you all had amazing holidays, that your New Year was peaceful, and I look forward to continuing to share this journey with you this year. Welcome, 2018! Much love and many, many snowy hugs to you all. ❤

 

 

 

 

Dressed In Winter And Taking A Holiday

Hello, dear ones! It has been way too long since my last post, but not for the lack of trying. Somehow it seems like nature and I are in sync, both stuck in a phase of trying lately, and the results we aim for don’t get realised at all. I look out the window and feel a sense of connectedness with the winds, with the earth, and the snow now falling once again, as opposed to rain the past couple of days. Nature appears to be struggling with its attempts at dressing our fields and forests in winter. We have had some colder days, and earlier this week on Tuesday, I drove Lilli and myself through a whirl of snow into Rauma for her art school. There was so much of it I felt myself drifting when staring out the windscreen at the large and hypnotizing flakes being hurled at us. But we made it there and home. And the next morning we woke to my spoken wishes the evening before come true —  magical soft sunlight over a white, crisp and misty winter wonderland.

power-lines-in-snowy-haze

light-crown-in-mist

I forgot about my coffee and threw my coat on, then spent over an hour walking around the farm as I aimed my lens in all directions. The air was so invigorating. Oh, and there is no way I could ever possibly describe in words the light that hits these buildings, and the mellow warmth in the tones reflected in spite of the cold. I feel like I could live in winter for an eternity and never grow tired of it. What drains me — and others, I’m sure — about winter these days are all those in-between days, when there is no snow yet no bare ground, either. Just a sea of grey slush. Makes me wish in the most deepest and secret parts of me that we lived even further north.

But, of course, I can’t move the farm. The entire village, even. Three hundred years of history and heritage isn’t something easily walked away from. And it’s just one of those cozy-feel day dreams, anyway. It wouldn’t even take a day to drive up to those vast, white rolling hills and mountains, and that is a blessing in itself. Not to mention our farming wouldn’t work up on the tundra. I suppose we could become reindeer farmers? Not sure Jay would buy into that, though. Haha

magical-hazy-glow-over-barn

soft-winter-light-on-wagon-house

I think it so very easily happens, no matter what we wish or dream about, that we begin taking it for granted. Especially when we struggle. Life is so full of ups and downs, and when we enter those valleys the dark can press us so heavily that we forget to look at the beauty of it, too. This is where I have been for some time now, wandering through a deep and gloomy haze, but for the past couple of days I sense an adjustment. I am getting ready to accept that this is where I am. Now. I am tired, exhausted even, and uninspired most of the time. I get sucked into a vortex together with all my better judgment, my plans and creative ideas, yet when I try to grab at even one thing it scuttles off into the fog and leaves me empty and crestfallen. The smallest setback leaves me standing at the end of the world, or makes me want to go to bed and sleep until it’s all over. In many situations it seems all that negativity I used to carry around, ghosts of old, and bad habits converge on me and I buckle under their attacks.

a-lonely-ladder

I looked at this ladder up against the window to what is to be our bedroom, and I thought to myself I didn’t even take it back after I cleaned the windows. It has been sitting there for a couple of months, now, if not more. But do you know what I also see? That old birch and how I love looking at it when I get my morning coffee. I have so often taken photos from that window, and that birch always makes every image so beautiful.

I think it’s one thing — a good thing — to be able to turn toward the good things, to count our blessings. But something I struggle with is to look those ghosts of mine in the eye and just let them be as they are. I often treat them like my worst enemies, like diseases I need to abolish, demons to be exorcised. Or simply just problems and flaws that need to be fixed. That, in turn, leads to frustration and anger which I bombard myself with. The harder I fight, the harder they fight, and maybe it isn’t so strange I find it a losing battle. Those ghosts are me. Some say kill them with kindness, and I also remember from my childhood days what my Dad used to read from the Bible about loving our enemies. I never was told and I never could have grasped in the first place, anyway, that we could be our very own worst enemy. But I have learned this in later years, so maybe I should try to stop exiling those wailing wraiths in the deepest recesses of my mind? Maybe I should treat them with kindness and compassion? After all, they are reflections of me at times when I felt neither. I could try and see the strength in their survival, their persistence and perseverance, in spite of the anger and hatred they have been and are victims of. At one point in my life they were a bigger part of me and they helped me survive, if maybe not in the best ways.

To love the most when it’s deserved the least could possibly be the greatest power there is, but the hardest. I think that is especially true when it comes to the self. I have so often wondered how do I love myself, anyway? What does it mean? I still can’t grasp an answer for that, but perhaps it’s a start to stop trying to divide myself, which seems to be exactly what I do when I look at those parts of myself as a problem to be fixed.

moon-among-old-buildings

the-moon-in-misty-magical-winter-wonderland

Oh, you know, I have started this next paragraph now several times over — each time with something different — because I keep zoning out when I look past my screen and into the snowfall outside the window. I want to tell you about what I have been up to these past couple of weeks, the ups and downs, my stress-induced ulcer and the deep doubts I have felt in pursuing this creative and artistic lifestyle, but as I mentioned further up I am lost in this vortex where I can’t grasp things. I start to write something and then forget what I was getting to. This is my way, but it’s so much more intense lately, and probably the very reason why I haven’t updated. But after that beautiful winter morning, and all the photos I took, I have little by little managed to summon motivation to write in spite of the time it takes.

swans-emigrating
At one moment, when I stood on the road behind our barn on that magical morning, I heard the call of swans. With the white haze and glow from the sun I had trouble pinpointing where they were, and when I finally got the focus of the lens to agree with me, they were so far away. I do remember thinking, though, that I’m not the only one out doing things in the last minute. I’m not actually sure when birds emigrate or if swans even do, but a couple of more groups like this one passed over my head while I was outside that day.

winter-birches

magical-glowing-light-behind-old-sauna

Another big motivator right now in writing this post is to give you all a sign of life, but also to tell you that I have decided to consciously take a Christmas holiday. I will be doing the same with Instagram — perhaps more importantly with Instagram, since lately I have felt such an obligation to post, and that wasn’t at all why I started sharing my photos.

sun-flare-through-spruce-hedge

cozy-lamp-in-spruce-adorned-window

It’s so strange how when I write these big posts and get to the end I feel like I haven’t said what I really wanted to say. But, once again, it’s probably a case of that incredible inability right now to link things together. I can’t even make sense of the words I have written. I want to erase it all and just post the photos, but at the same time I don’t want to hide this part of me because it’s very possible this is just one of the seasons within me. One of the cycles which I go through from time to time. So instead of closing the doors and telling visitors she can’t see you right now, she’s not doing well, I just want to say this is me, too. I’m not sick. I’m not unwell. I’m just a little all over the place right now. I want to be okay with the way I am at this moment in time and let myself be just like this.

soft-light-on-timber-and-old-buildings

snow-glitter-in-hazy-light

And at last I want to thank all of you who have signed up to follow my blog. I don’t think I expected any more than just a few, even if I hoped. Either way it has really meant so much to me you found something here to capture your interest. I also enjoy so much to see your thoughts and reflections over what I have written, the photos I have shared, and it warms my heart that you are still here, even if I am absent for longer periods or in spite of my texts being a little messy — at times more so, haha. Even you who don’t comment and give me a like. Thank you. I look at the traffic to my blog and no matter how much or little reaches any of you, I am thankful for the opportunity to connect.

magical-soft-light-shining-into-the-yard

A big hug to all of you. Have the most amazing Christmas holidays, and I will see you in the new year. All my love. ❤

Walking A Frosty Wonderland

Hello my darling friends and readers! I started this post earlier today while listening to some music and going through the photos I took this morning. I finally made it out to capture some frost! And the air right now is absolutely amazing. Rich yet crisp, with a touch of that clean, wintry scent.

frosty-leaves

Earlier this year we got some papers from the local council to negotiate the rerouting of some electricity lines in our village, and that we were to get an electricity station on our lands through which these new cables will go. As unesthetic as it is, there wasn’t much to do but to like and accept the situation. At least we got to decide where the thing was to be placed. And so, for the past few days, now that the harvest is pretty much done, all kind of vehicles have been driving up and down our little road, and machines have delved into the fields.

electricity-box

diggers-in-the-fields

workers-in-the-fields

On a more positive note, however, this has eased the installation of a more reliable and faster internet connection through what we call fiber. Not sure if it’s the same in English? For years now we have had internet problems, and we even switched to mobile internet since it worked better than ADSL. That hasn’t exactly been ideal either, but we have made do. Now though, as soon as all the work is done, the days of our connection dropping out whenever it feels like it are over. Hopefully.

sun-glow-through-frosty-maple-leaf

Today was Lilli’s last day of school before a five-day autumn break. We did intend to go on a little trip, but since the harvest took so long, everything else was pushed forward, and with colder days and frost long past the morning hours, every day counts to prep the fields for winter. This weekend Lilli will spend some time with her grandmother in Rauma, though, and she always loves that. They both do.

jay-running-for-the-tractor
Jay asked me to come photograph the fields and met me to show me where, then ran back to work.
ploughing-the-fields
Jay’s father does the ploughing.

field-close-up

Meanwhile, I’m working on getting myself back on track. Going to bed earlier, for one. Since I last wrote I believe I hit that wall, and the time for a change is now. Not later. No more excuses or justifications as to why I have to stay up a little while longer to get this or that done. Last night I crawled beneath the covers a few minutes past ten at night, as opposed to two in the morning. I slept like a log for over eight hours, which was long overdue and did help, but I felt almost drunk when I got up, so this sleeping business has moved up to top priority now.

I must tell you how much warmth your words in response to my latest post gave me. I felt the smile all the way down in my toes. It’s like having my very own cheerleading squad and I can’t express in words how incredibly grateful I am to you for such wonderful support. It really means so much to me. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. ❤

farm-building-in-frost

sunrise-over-farm-building-in-frost

frost-covered-logs

This morning I had every intention to finally get some photos taken I have been planning for some time now, and to write a post about that dream I have had for the longest time and am now pursuing. I took my camera with me when Loke and I went for our morning walk, though, and got stuck photographing a frost-covered wonderland. By the time I got back inside the joints in my hands ached so badly I nearly cried. That’s what I get for leaving my gloves inside and thinking a short walk with Loke wouldn’t turn into anything else but that. Haha So instead I will leave you a couple of photos from this weekend, when Jay joined me in the living room while I was practicing. It will give you an idea of what this new endeavour of mine involves. 😉

(And excuse the mess. Neither of us are the tidiest people in the world. Haha)

cello-in-messy-room

me-and-my-cello
Photo by Jay.

A cello. To me it is the most beautiful instrument in this world — well, I do love all bow instrument. If I say much else I will not be able to stop, so I am saving it for another post. I am curious though if any of you play an instrument or have any favourites? I tried for years to learn playing the guitar but my heart wasn’t in it. It just didn’t fit somehow.

Now, I want wish you the best week and to send you lots of love. Take care of yourselves and each other. ❤

To Be In The Moment

Hello darling friends and readers! Sunday is here and I’m wondering where the weekend went. I said to myself on Friday that I would spend my weekend outside, preferably taking some nature walks with Loke, maybe even visit Sammallahdenmäki again. I imagine it’s so beautiful right now — all that moss and lichen crawling over the ancient burial grounds beneath a vibrant canopy. Lilli wanted to go into Lappi to play with her friends, so I thought it was a brilliant plan.

And then the rain came.

sunlit-rain

On Friday afternoon, Jay sent me a message from the fields to alert me to big droplets falling from sunlit skies. Even if his visions and opinions of what is a great photo don’t always match mine, it makes me really happy that he has taken such a big interest. At times it has seemed he doesn’t even notice, but he really does. He just isn’t the kind of person to verbalise or even show it very often. I tend to forget, but then it’s all the more precious when I remember. Do you know what I mean?

I sat in the doorway again to shoot. This zoom lens is amazing, but I have also noticed that I have gotten a little lazy with moving around. When I can get to my targets by a mere twist of my wrist my feet stay in one spot. No change of angle, no circling the scene — this hit me as I sat on those steps. But my camera isn’t waterproof, nor does the lens repel water droplets, so I wondered once again how other photographers manage to capture all these wonderful rainy moments. I gave the old umbrella in our foyer a skeptical glance. I already knew I am far from steady with my hands, so to balance an umbrella while keeping the camera still seemed so daunting, but I did give it a try.

What I thought I would do, then, this weekend, since I have been stuck inside, was to gather some of my rain photos and blog about it. And then I remembered I didn’t join the Weekly Photo Challenge last week. So I looked up the prompt, and when I saw pedestrian, I knew my time had come to finally share my photos from VanhaRauma. Conveniently — or meant to be? — I was in Rauma on Friday, too. I had my camera with me and got a few captures of Vanha Rauma dressed in autumn’s golden autumn tones.

park-bench-vanha-rauma

I love these little “coincidences”. Twists of fate. I release a wish and, suddenly, out of nowhere, there it is. Like the mushrooms I talked about with some friends on Thursday, how I seem to find mostly soggy or frayed specimens. For the longest time I wanted to find and capture a round little fly amanita (fly mushroom in Swedish) without much luck. And then I found one only a few steps from where I parked my car in town! The last place I would have expected to find one.

park-mushroom-vanha-rauma

I can’t even recall how many times in my life I seem to have stumbled into these moments. Let it go, let the pieces fall as they may. Give up the search and whatever I sought has been found. Even blog posts, now that I think about it. They hardly ever turn out according to plan, and most of the time when I make an outline in my head I can’t even begin. So I open up a draft and just write. That is when it all comes together. Maybe not always with the greatest coherence or a neat, red line.

architecture-vanha-rauma

Yesterday morning I was so tired I could hardly open my eyes, but I went straight to work on editing once the coffee was ready. As I sat there, I wrote in my journal if I start the day with housework, creativity suffers. If I start the day with creativity, housework suffers. This is something I have thought about a lot lately. The state of this place slowly falls into mess and disorganisation, and I think right, time to get on top of it again. Once I put my mind to it, I am efficient. But as the floors shine, the sofas are free of clothes, and the countertops in the kitchen sparkle, my camera and my computer stand untouched. There is no mud on my shoes to tell the story of long walks through the forest.

rowan-of-vanha-rauma

Anything that requires a plan, an outline, a well thought out step-by-step schedule swallows all those things needed for my artistry. Ideas and inspiration fade into the background. My entire creative process suffers. I have yet to find the balance, and I sometimes wonder if it is even possible. Just like with those moments when things just happen because I let them go, I know that when I try too hard, look too closely, I go blind. I lose my sense of touch. That feeling and emotion goes numb.

kuninkaankatu-vanha-rauma

Ever since this spring, when I visited Sammallahdenmäki (a UNESCO World Heritage site and Bronze Age burial ground on the outskirts of Lappi), I got the idea to take you on a walk through Vanha Rauma. Another World Heritage site. I thought I would do it during Rauman Pitsiviikko — an annual culture event. Pitsi translates to lace, and this event came about from the making of bobbin lace. It was once a big thing here, and I think it still might be. During Pitsiviikko there are people and markets everywhere, from all parts of Finland. I couldn’t think of a more perfect opportunity to capture the beating heart of Finnish history and culture mingling. I painted up a mental plan in my head of what types of photos I would take and got really excited about it. It seems as though I completed it so beautifully in my head that when Rauman Pitsiviikko rolled around, I had nothing left to draw from, and in the end I went without my camera.

isokirkkokatu-goto-restaurant-vanha-rauma

beauty-salon-vanha-rauma

On both occasions from where these photos are taken I had no plan, no goal. I did want to take some self-portraits and dressed for the occasion, but once I wandered among these buildings that thought vanished.

cafe-sali-vanha-rauma
My favourite café. The staff is so lovely and they have a very tasty selection of cakes, cookies and coffee breads.

symmetry-vanha-rauma

I may be a big lover of nature, but Old Rauma is very special. I have mixed emotions about Stockholm, but I love walking through Old Town and along the canals. Old buildings and architecture like this gives me a feeling of hovering in-between now and then. I imagine horses and carriages, market stalls, gentlemen in long coats and hats, ladies in their dresses and timeless hairdo’s. There is something about street musicians that always adds to this magic. Unfortunately none were seen on this day.

tullin-kaffe-vanha-rauma

cobble-stone-foliage-details-vanha-rauma

 

 

 

Sometimes I wish I could go on these adventures with all things required packed into the car. My camera gear, my laptop, and do my blog posts on moving foot, so to speak. It is when I am in the moment that the impressions of my experiences and senses have most vibrance. They are fresh in my mind and the emotion that goes with it alive.

walking-the-outskirts-vanha-rauma

vibrant-vines-vanha-rauman-kellari

autumn-glow-vanha-rauma

On these days I thought how cozy it would have been to at the end of my photo walk go to my favourite café. To sit there with a cup of coffee and my laptop to go through the photos, then write about it. Still surrounded by the sights and smells.

So, with all this said, I think the definition of pedestrian according to the dictionary is so strange. Boring, tedious, uninspired, uncreative, unimaginative, monotonous. Being a pedestrian is anything and everything but lifeless or uneventful. Being the pedestrian in the moment, no matter the scenery, is to me one of the best parts of any journey. Planning and speedy results are to me dull. But then I didn’t always see it that way. Once I wanted to get to my destination fast and without delay. And of course I still find my way back to drumming my fingertips and drawing deep sighs, checking my wrist watch and wanting time to speed up.

Luckily, these days I do have my camera. I can and even want to capture these moments. Prolong them. Enhance them. Immortalise them. And I think that it is all there in the light and shadows, the tones and stilled movement, even if I can’t always remember every aspect of what it was truly like.

Now, my dears, I would like to wish you a wonderful remainder of this Sunday, and a good week ahead. Much love. ❤

 

 

Autumn, Fire And Rainy Days

Good afternoon dear friends and readers. I hope your week started off well and that you are blessed with “better” weather than we have been lately. I have to say that I actually don’t mind this dusky light nor the rainy days. Somehow it enhances the colours on our vibrant forests and it all feels so mystical and cozy. I am not sure how much longer we will get to keep the leaves though. A couple of days ago the winds arrived — those strong, cold autumn gales which tell us colder days are on their way — and since it hasn’t only been raining water, but leaves, too. It’s such a powerful sight I just stop and stare.

windy-autumn-trees

I tried to capture those whirling leaf clouds but they didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, and after scaling down five hundred photos to thirty, I still felt I had to take some out, so it didn’t make the final cut.

rain-drops-on-window

I have this immense struggle with being able to perceive how much time something takes. Not only that, I get stuck in each little element, so everything I do seems to take half an age to get done. Do you ever experience that?

I sat down yesterday morning to pick out photos from Monday and write about what we got up to that day, but then I looked out the window and just listened to the soothing melody of rain drumming against the sill. My mind whisked me away. I’ll get some photos of these rain droplets on the window. One thing lead to another, and I ended up on the door step where I sat for I don’t know how long to capture the rain.

rain-falling-over-mossy-roof

wet-autumn-maple-leaves

bare-autumn-bush-and-building

By the time I got back, my coffee was cold and I had to make some more. I don’t know how healthy my coffee consumption is, but editing photos requires a couple of cups. At least. Loke was sleeping on the floor but kept an eye on me, in case I might disappear outside again. He used to be a destroyer of worlds when left alone, but he seems to have calmed down. These days I rarely see him standing on the recliner to look out the window to see where we are.

sleepy-loke-dog

When I finally was able to sit down again, I only got halfway through the photos before we had to get ready for Rauma. Every Tuesday afternoon Lilli has art school, but we left earlier yesterday to have time to run some errands first.

While Lilli went on an excursion with her art class, Jay and I had coffee at his mother’s place. She is on her last year of work and retires this coming spring, so she has been saying she will come out here more often, and to help out in the garden or whatever we might need. I hold admiration for a great many people, for all kinds of things, but there is something about Jay’s parents and others from this generation — nothing seems to slow them down. They find and carry out a thousand tasks in such a way that to me appears seamless and effortless. I do know it isn’t always as easy as it seems, but I admire it all the same.

finnish-autumn-farm-buildings

finnish-autumn-farm

So. On Monday Jay and his father had to clear a meadow full of wild hay and weeds, then burn it. Jay asked me to come down and take photos for his “archives”. He got that “tough” camera for himself to document the work on the farm, but I understand wanting photos taken from afar, so that all of the action can be seen. I hadn’t ever really looked at the farm from this angle, especially not when the fields are bare. It really does look big from here, as a friend told me, and it was so nice to get this different perspective of our home.

loke-dog-in-autumn-field
Loke joined me.

men-on-tractor-in-field

men-on-tractor-in-forest-meadow

Jay found my camera before I could upload the photos. I asked him to come to watch them with me yesterday. These photos turned out great, honey, come have a look! He told me he had seen them already on the camera. Lots of artistic ones, he said with that little funny smile of his. He doesn’t get the point of leaves in focus and the digger and its purpose all blurred out in the background. Haha I explained then that I wanted photos for myself as well, for the blog. He thought I could just blur out the faces, but to me that ruins the feeling in the photo. I did however do that on the top photo for Jay’s father. I don’t know if you can tell — I tried to keep it as subtle as possible. And luckily half the face is hidden behind the exhaust. Haha

autumn-leaves-and-digger-out-of-focus
One of my “artistic” photos. Haha 😉

That “wagon” Jay sat on behind old Fergu (a Massey Ferguson from the 1960’s) is ancient, and meant to be pulled by a horse. It’s amazing and great how they still find use for these “outdated” tools and vehicles, and that they actually work.

So first they cleared the wildness with it — I think it just rakes and rips out the worst of the hay and weed, the tall and dry — then used the bright orange digger to gather it into piles for burning. For this kind of work, I am glad it has been so wet lately. With winds like we had on Monday, I worry it would have spread so easily. But they know what they are doing — I just get the pleasure of running around with my camera to document it all.

combine-harvester

While Jay’s father collected the hay and weeds into piles, Jay took the combine harvester to some smaller fields close to the river to finish some areas left from last week. It has grown unevenly, and some of it wasn’t fully ready. He called it cherry picking and showed me some photos of what was left. Apparently the combine has been having engine trouble, and conks out, so I don’t actually know if he did manage to get the rest on Monday.

autumn-brushy-forest-birch

autumn-rowan-branches-leaves-and-berries

I keep thinking I want to get out and take photos on these darker days. Mostly, I struggle to get out of my head to begin with, but I am also so frightened of the higher ISO (light sensitivity) numbers. This is also why I rarely take nor show photos from inside the house. Well, that and the unbelievable mess everywhere. Haha

When I was out on Monday (and yesterday) I had to use an ISO of either 400 or 800 to be able to keep the shutter speed at 1/500 second to freeze movement. And as far as I have understood it, to get greater depth of field, clarity and colour, I couldn’t use the smaller f-numbers. I used 7.1 and 8 now, for most photos. (On the zoom lens I am still borrowing, I normally use f4 – 5.6.)

After having looked through all these photos now I see that an ISO of 400 I can accept, if I must, but the photos in which I used ISO 800 turned out too grainy for my tastes. I can fix it somewhat in Lightoom, with luminance and colour correction, but it softens the entire image and I lose clarity and sharpness. I did however consider that maybe I just have to work around it by composing images that look good that way, if you know what I mean? To keep that in mind when I shoot, so that a soft, dreamy film suits the composition of the entire image. It’s not a problem if there is no wind and I can use slower shutter speed, but I do have to keep the tripod with me since I am very shaky with my hands.

autumn-aspen

In spite of the gloomy lighting and leaving the house without the tripod, I managed to wander off into the forest. All these colours had me so distracted, and the smells were divine. I ended up by the little river and lost track of time. When I got back, Jay had returned to take over managing the fires.

autumn-branches-over-water

autumn-reflections-in-water

Jay is never surprised when I disappear like that, and I really am so glad I can. In fact, had it not been for Jay asking me to come outside on Monday, I might not have made myself. This strange lethargy continues to hover over me, but when I do get outside it dissipates almost immediately. I don’t know if I can call it lethargy, because my mind is like a beehive. And I can’t relax, even if my butt seems glued to its spot at times. Either way, I can only keep trying to overcome it until I do. And rest. I am at my wits end with these short nights and my brain ding-dong-ing whenever I slip out of my sleep just the slightest. I get moments when I don’t feel like myself at all. Do you ever get that?

smoking-fields

When I got back… No, wait. Haha I went back inside after I took the photos of Jay and his father driving Fergu. My camera had something stuck on the lens and I had to clean it. Jay came inside to tell me when the fires were burning, and I went out a second time. That was when Jay left with the combine harvester and I disappeared into the woods.

I am sitting here laughing so much right now. If you only knew how many times in a day this sort of thing happens to me, or the amount of times I think I have done something when I haven’t. So, you know what? I am not going to re-write all this. I have already been writing on and off for a couple of hours now.

Are you certain you would want to visit a wellness center under my management? Haha

pitchfork-in-burning-hay

man-with-pitchfork-in-burning-hay

man-smoke-and-fire-in-field

At least there would be someone close at hand who could handle a fire. 😉

Well, this has been my week so far. How about you? Have you had or do you have anything special on the schedule this week?

Now I am going to call and make an appointment with my hairdresser. I would like to liven up my hair for some photos I am planning, and if all works out, I’ll be a little more redhead than brunette. I have coloured my hair a lot throughout my life, but completely blonde is something that I can’t seem to take care of, so I promised myself to not do that again. I have very fine strands of hair and I end up looking a little like those tiny trolls you can put at the end of pencils. Haha

autumn-birch-bark-closeup

yellow-rowan-leaves-closeup
End of photo bomb. ;-*

Many hugs and much love, darling friends and readers. ❤

Sauna Evening

Hello, everyone! I hope you are all off to a good start of the week. Friday last week, Lilli, Jay, Loke and I went to Panelia, which is about an half-hour drive from here. It’s where Jay’s mother grew up and where one of her brothers–who is also Jay’s godfather–lives with his wife. I have been there many times over the years and they are lovely people. Regardless, I still get funny when we go to meet with others. Nervous or anxious. And more often than not I have to battle with myself, remind myself that it will pass. Because it does get better. I get so irritated with myself for it, though. A few years ago I would end up staying home, so it has gotten much better, but the feeling–the knot of unease in my stomach–is awful. Do you ever feel like that?

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The tynnyrisauna. Barrel sauna.

I imagine that going to sauna is one of the signifying habits of Finns. Did you know they even have competitions to see who can stay the longest? I think I only went to sauna a handful of times before I moved here, and as far as I can remember, the saunas I visited in Sweden weren’t this hot. My favourite is the sauna at the summer cottage; it’s milder somehow. All that said, when in Finland, sooner or later you acclimatise. Haha

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We had the nicest evening in Panelia. The weather was beautiful, even though it got really cold once the sun set. Jay and his godfather went between the terrace and the barrel sauna for what seemed like hours. Lilli and I sat inside and talked to Jay’s godfather’s wife. She is from Sri Lanka and told me a lot about her family back home. She is the warmest, happiest person. I love just listening to people sharing their life stories–a good reminder for when I get anxious about leaving my home!

Once sauna was done, we grilled and talked in their warm kitchen.

Jay’s godfather is a photographer, and it was so nice to finally get to talk to him about photography. We looked at some of the photos I have taken, and I didn’t know what to do with myself when he gave me so many lovely words of praise. Face to face it becomes like rain on a sunny day, and all I could do was blink, smile, and nod. Haha

Jay’s godfather and I seem to share the same love for light, and he even gave me some ideas and shared a little “secret”. One I will have to try. In the end he offered me his zoom lens to borrow–a lens I have never tried! I was so excited about it and finally got to try it a little yesterday evening. I’ll show you a few of those photos in my next post.

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My beautiful Lilli. ❤

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Since I don’t really drink these days, I am the designated driver. On our way home, we had a police car behind us the entire way. Once upon a time I used to get so anxious I felt like peeing my pants in those situations, haha. And then, when we turned off onto the gravel road a couple of minutes from home, the police flashed their lights. Apparently I was driving too peacefully, which the kind policeman emphasised is a good thing. I got to blow for an alcohol test which obviously came out clear. 😉

Next time, I will try the barrel sauna, too. I couldn’t this time, due to delicate reasons, so I wandered around with my camera for a little while. Do you go to sauna where you live?

I wish you all a lovely day. Much love. ❤

The Depth In Fields

Living on a farm surrounded by fields, this week’s photo challenge instantly made me think of the endless options to capturing these vast and somewhat flat canvases in a photo. My biggest struggle here when it comes to bringing what I see with my eyes into the image is: where do I focus and from what angle? While we can do amazing things to our images in post-processing with Lightroom and Photoshop, it cannot (in my opinion) compare to what our eyes can take in and the images they produce in our minds as we stand there and just gaze.

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I often stop to aim my camera at the fields–especially this time of the year as they begin to turn golden–only to end up deleting the capture straight away because it just falls flat. Do you know what I mean? In all honesty, that happens a lot when I want to capture landscapes. I got that wide angle lens, for example, that I had been wanting to get for so long, and yet somehow I can’t help but feel disappointed by how it pushes my vision into the background. I do get to capture the wide spectrum, but what my eyes see–the magic in certain elements that makes what I see so wonderful–trails off into the distance.

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I have three lenses, but I am shooting mostly with my Tamron 90mm macro at the moment. As a result, I am moving around a lot, but I do get what I want with it. And while I have started wishing for a lens with wider zoom options, I think this way the challenges I meet are good for my creativity. To not have too many options forces me to come up with solutions and puts me in situations I might not have ended up in if I could just reach for another lens.

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So instead of being sad for not managing to capture the wonderful beauty of the fields the way I envisioned to begin with, I focused on the contrast between sharpness and blur created when using the smallest f-stop on my macro lens. All the images in this post are shot at f2.8. And I am honestly so very happy with the results.

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I absolutely love the effects and textures I can achieve in post-processing. Truthfully, even without any editing at all many photos turn out great. I just find it so much fun to play around with them, especially when I have gotten my settings just right. The glow, the shimmer and sparkle, or the filtering effects of swaying foliage or leaves in the nearest foreground. Together with that one area of focus, I get to translate the magic I feel–even if it turned out differently than I first imagined.

Thank you so much for reading. I wish you all a great Friday and a wonderful weekend. Much love. ❤

Regaining Balance

Hello, everyone. It’s been a while, now, and I get this feeling I update less and less often. After getting back from our holiday in Sweden, though, it was like something inside me deflated. A strange mixture of serene vibes and quiet emptiness.

Since our ferry home left early on Monday morning, and there is a 400-something kilometer drive from Ramvik to Stockholm, Lilli and I set out after midnight. My mother was crocheting a little bag for Lilli, and while she added the finishing touches, I took my camera out for some last light catching. The car was packed and we were ready to go, so I took a long, lazy stroll and stayed outside for a good hour.

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These old docks have all but crumbled into the depths of Ångermanälven, and they look so mystical in the dark.
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Lilli and I made a couple of stops along the way down to Stockholm. One to fill up the tank, and one to let Loke do his business before getting on the ferry. He simply refuses to go in those sand boxes they have placed on the walkways outside. Considering the amount of dogs leaving their waste in there, I don’t blame him.

We filled up fuel at this rest stop called Tönnebro. Next to it is a lake, and as we drove in I said to Lilli I just have to take a few photos first. So I did.

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I thought the gull would leave, but he watched me intently for a moment, then got back to gleaning his feathers.

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Absolutely gorgeous sunrise. And that mist. ❤ I would have taken more photos if we hadn’t been on a tight schedule.
My first full day home was back-to-business. I went into the fields to do some work and in the evening I took my camera outside but at first my heart just wasn’t in it. I actually had this ridiculous moment when setting up the tripod and mounting the camera; I didn’t tighten the screw and the camera fell forward, squashing my finger. It’s unbelievable how much they weigh! So I swore in such ways any elder would have told me black frogs were cascading out of my mouth. And then I plopped down on the forest floor and started crying. Not my brightest moment, I can tell you that. But I kept going–bleeding finger and all. I refused to accept defeat.

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First blueberries of the season!
That first day spent working, I decided I would go back to those fields out in the middle of the forest. Wild flowers of all kinds, and an abundance of them, lined the fields and the grassy roads, so yesterday before last light, Lilli and I took the 4WD for a spin. When we got there, someone had trimmed down the foliage and the visions I had for my photos were strewn out in dried and shriveled heaps all along the road. I was a little sad about it but I quickly got distracted by the beautiful shadows falling across the fields. And in the end I got many, many great shots.

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In the next two weeks to come we have some projects in the house that need finishing, so I may or may not be able to post very often still. But once that is done, I’ll be back with more regular updates, and lots of photos. Thank you so much for the support, everyone. And a happy, cozy Sunday to you all. ❤