A Morning Date With the Wood Burner

Hello darlings! I just looked at the time and it’s incredible how quickly the hours just fly ahead when I’m consumed in a task. When I got up this morning our house was so cold because we were lazy this weekend and didn’t keep an eye on the wood burner. Last night Jay went to check it and confirmed the fire had gone out some time ago, and flipped the switch to heat up our water with electricity instead. We are lucky we aren’t in the dead of winter with twenty below zero. While it’s still on the plus side, although only a few degrees, it seems the water stays warm for longer, even after the fire has gone out.

Using electricity is something I find so wasteful when we have our own wood to burn, but I am also grateful we have that option — as much as it’s not meant as backup for our laziness. However it’s very useful on those harshest and most painfully cold days since burning wood simply isn’t enough. Of course, I am completely okay with putting on an extra layer of clothes, but not having the luxury of warm water on those days isn’t so nice. That said, we haven’t had a winter like that for a long, long time now.

ash-chamber-overflowing
The ash waste goes into this container, and a big screw is attached to the handle, with which we grind the waste through a pipe in the wall and into a big barrel on the other side.

As soon as the darkness lifted, I got dressed in my work clothes and went outside to deal with the fire. I really don’t like going out there when it’s till dark, at least not up on the loft. There are so many deep corners up there and the slightest wind whistles eerily through the old wood. I’m a grown woman but still afraid of the dark and so easily spooked it’s ridiculous. Some nights I have to wrap the bed cover around my legs — I have this strange fear of something touching my feet. I’ve read and heard that I’m not alone in that, though. Do any of you have fears like that?

The first thing I do when I get out there is fill up the container with wood chips. If the fire has gone out, I have to turn the feed off before or it will push wood into the burner, which fills up and gets clogged without a fire. It is only now that I am getting the hang of all the things involved in this. The amount of times Jay has had to answer the same questions!

checking-the-wood-burner-chamber

cleaning-the-wood-burner-chamber

I think the fire went out before we ran out of wood because the burner chamber was full of wood chips and big charred/melted lumps. I have no idea what happened, but I spent the longest time cleaning before I could even get started on building the fire. I had to reach in there with my hands and dig it all out.

a-pot-full-of-ash

The actual fire is in the end part of the pipe which feeds wood, and not inside the burner chamber. Took me some time before I understood this. Air also blows through this pipe, so before the fire is alive and steady, I have to disable the screw, otherwise it will just push whatever little glowing embers have ignited out into the burner chamber. And then I have to start all over.

the-wood-feed-lever

the-bolt-screw-nut-thingy

I gave up trying to find the appropriate names for these parts. In the first image are the two levers — one connected to the screw and one to the engine that drives it around. That bolt (or whatever it’s called) in the second image has a ball bearing inside it (I think). It keeps the two levers connected, and before the fire burns, it has to be removed so that the engine (or compressor?) only blows air through the feed pipe. Jay was in charge of this at first, but now that I can do it, I have to be the one to tighten this bolt, otherwise I can’t get it back off. He tightens it way too much. For my strength, at least, haha.

lighting-the-kindling

burning-milk-carton

We collect all burnable things from the household rubbish and use it for kindling. These milk cartons are perfect since I just open it up and fill it with paper and carton and whatever else, then light it up. After that I put it into the end of the feed pipe, where there has to be wood chips. Then I just wait until the wood a little further in is burning. This looks really cool. Like hundreds of tiny, tiny fireflies soaring out from the pipe and into the wood burner chamber. I tried to get a photo of it, but I wasn’t willing to risk the health of my camera. 😉 I did manage to catch a few flying dots of fire, though!

flying-burning-dots

So that was my morning. I think I spent almost two hours out there, and another couple of hours, almost, getting this written because I do not possess the skill of multitasking. The editing took no time at all. I barely did anything with them, and I think it’s thanks to my yummy (it is a good word!) new lens! ❤

me-and-my-beloved-coffee
Here I am, writing you lovely people and waiting for hot water so I can wash all the soot off, haha!

Now I will wish you all a wonderful week. I hope it brings many good things your way. I also want to thank you for all the lovely words you leave me, they really make me so happy and I love reading them. I will sit down and answer your comments a little later today. I’ll see you soon!

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Soaking Up The Beauty Of Early Winter Light

Hello my dearest friends and readers. I woke up at 04:30 this morning. As I sat on the toilet, eyes grainy with sleep, I thought that I would put on some coffee, do a blog post, and then go back to bed. Haha, I don’t know why I get these ideas when I am dead tired, but ever since I uploaded the photos I took yesterday to my computer I have been eager to share them. So I sat down with a cup of hot coffee and got to work. Ever since Wednesday I have felt under the weather, like I am getting sick, and everything takes a hundred times longer than usual, so just before seven o’clock I had only one photo left to save when this awful nausea hit me. I really slid down in my chair and couldn’t move, afraid I would throw up. I just stared at that save-box and thought just think up a name for the photo and save it, then go to bed.

I did and I slept till 11:00! And now I’m here again to photo bomb you. 😉

soft-winter-light-over-fields

I mentioned in my last post that I barely lifted my camera for the past few weeks. After my confession to Jay, talking with my friend, and telling you all about it, I felt light as a feather. It really is true what is said about sharing our burdens and relieving the weight of it. Yet this felt more like throwing it off completely and suddenly it seemed like the walls around me were torn down and I could run out in whichever direction I chose. It’s just incredible how we with our thoughts and perceptions can either create a suffocating prison for ourselves, or a vast wonderland of endless possibilities. And all it takes is a little honesty — with ourselves and others. Just wow. Don’t you think?

So yesterday I spent over two hours outside. First, I took Loke for a walk along our little road that leads toward the neighbours and our mailbox. Jay drove past me at one point to get Lilli from Lappi — she had stayed behind after school to play with some friends. I like having Loke with me, but he gets so impatient if I linger too long to take photos, and since he is still so young and doesn’t always stay by my side, I keep him on a leash. So very often I find myself consumed in taking a specific shot and suddenly my arm flies out when he decides we have been still for too long. I can get so irritated with him at those times, even if I understand how boring it must be for him to sniff around the same scents for too long. He knows when I am ready to move along, and instantly starts skipping in joy that we are finally leaving whatever little cramped space I squeezed myself into to get my photos. Haha

magical-light-over-our-house

more-soft-light-over-fields

I love how gentle the light is right now. It’s kind of perfect when I think about it, because when the snow comes, that light dances off the thousands of shimmering crystals covering the lands and I can’t imagine how blinding it would be if the sun stood as high in the sky as it does during summer. Although it can be blinding all the same — you can even get a tan! Which makes me think of what I have heard growing up, about depression hitting us so hard here in this part of the world during these darker months. Yet if I at any time felt weary, it was during spring and high summer. I wondered earlier this year if it’s because all my depots get depleted during the darker months, but then another blogger mentioned how hard and cold the light is in spring, and I have always been sensitive to strong light conditions. I get headaches, bone-weary, lose motivation — I feel like a zombie. But maybe it isn’t just that the light is too harsh. What if the fact that I am outside more during autumn and winter as opposed to spring and summer, and with the help of the reflection off the snow, it is enough anyway? Apparently we don’t get the vitamin D humans need up here in the Nordic countries, but what if we are evolved in such a way to either soak up the vitamin D easier, or maybe we just don’t need as much. And I have heard so many stories from others who suffer spring depression as well, so maybe it’s just a myth? I find this all so very interesting. What do you think?

tomte-marschall-torch-holder

We were at a birthday party recently, and afterwards we stopped by the shop to pick up some milk. Jay disappeared for a moment and when I finally saw him coming toward me, he had this quirky smile on his face and two of these tomtar in his arms. They have holders for marschaller, torch like candles that look like a really big tea light candle. Jay thought they would look great in the opening of the spruce hedge to our yard, and I agree. They look so adorable sitting there. ❤

jay-coming-to-talk

I actually went out twice yesterday. My fingers are so incredibly sensitive to cold and moisture these days, and they turn corpse-pale and I lose all sensation in them, so I can’t be out for too long at a time or it becomes extremely painful. Not all fingers are affected actually, only some. It’s so strange to see a couple of my fingers look so totally yellow-white next to the ones not affected, and it’s not the entire finger, either, only from the second or last joint down to the tip. My mother has the same problem.

Jay was away on a business trip a couple of weeks ago, and when he came home he had gotten me a new lens for my camera! It’s this amazing little lens; a 50mm with the smallest f-number at 1.8. I used that for all the photos in this post. But what I love the most about it are the beautiful close-ups it produces. Right behind Jay in the last photo, between those two buildings are a few red currant bushes, and when I first tested the lens I took a few photos of them at sunset. So the reason I went back outside was to get some more, because they just looked so beautiful and I only got a couple of good ones the first time. I’m still trying to get a hang of the focus on the new lens — it is a little trickier than I am used to.

red-currants-in-sunset-depth-of-field

magical-sunset-and-depth-of-field

dead-plant-in-magical-light

colourful-lichen-and-branches

I have also finally started collecting photos to put up on a page called Printler. It’s a Swedish-founded online photo print shop, and it’s for photographers as well. Best of all — they recently went international. I wrote them earlier this year to ask if I could sign up to sell my photos, and they told me that so long as I have a Swedish ID number, I can, which I have. But I wasn’t sure how it would work with taxes and in practice, since I live in Finland. They also told me then that they would launch outside of Sweden this autumn, so in the end I decided to wait. Meanwhile I considered the fact that as a non-professional photographer without a business registration number, you get 30% of the profits, as opposed to up to 50%. If I have understood it correctly. I thought about this for months, and now I have decided that I will sign up. I follow this wonderful blogger and photographer, Jonna Jinton, whom I know some of you also follow, and after having read how stressful and time consuming it can be to have a web shop and handle all packaging and postage yourself, I think that any reduced profit (if there even is any, considering I’d have to pay for the prints, postage and handling if I had my own web shop anyway) is more than worth my own peace of mind. Printler handles all of that. The only thing I have to do is take photos and upload them to my own personal gallery. That’s it. I think it’s a great option to start with.

jay-in-soft-light

soft-light-on-old-barn

After creeping around in the bushes to get my close-ups of the berries, I took a walk down behind the farm. I mentioned we had workers digging around in our fields to put down new electricity cables, and I think that, too, kept me from taking my beloved photo walks around the farm. I’m not as strict with requiring my privacy when I photograph these days, but it still felt awkward to have strangers driving and walking back and forth in our private safe haven. Especially with all the noise from the machines.

digger-on-the-road

muddy-trenches

pipe-for-wires

I was so shocked when I walked around the orange digger to find a huge trench cutting through our little road. It made me realise how long it has been since I last walked this way.

trailer-full-of-muck

But this digging is done by Jay and his father. Instead of paying hundreds of euros for labour to dig down the pipe through which the fiber cable for our new internet connection will go, Jay decided to do it himself. He and his father also know what lies beneath the earth around here, so they know precisely where it’s safe to dig and where not to. I don’t know if I mentioned that the workers cut through a cable that shut down electricity to parts of our farm, including the heating system that brings the hot water from the barn to our house. On a Friday afternoon. Luckily it wasn’t so cold then, and one of the workers managed to patch it up till we could get an electrician to repair it.

logs-and-magical-light

winter-apple-in-soft-light

The sun played peek-a-boo all of yesterday, so I am very glad I went out twice and stayed for so long. I got to capture so much beauty from the softness of these early winter evenings. In fact, it isn’t really only in the evening the light is like this — it is an all day blessing. From early morning till early sunset. Actual winter sunsets are something from another realm. I will make sure to capture some of those moments, too, and share with you. Especially when the frost or the snow stays from dawn till dusk.

maple-seed-pods-in-soft-winter-light

magical-bokeh-and-branches

magical-bokeh-and-spruce-branches

Now we have to get ready for town. Lilli is going to stay with her grandmother till tomorrow, which she reminded me of when I told her we are going into the forest this weekend to collect some things for Christmas decoration crafting. Haha I finished scraping off glue and sanded off some paint yesterday from the wooden panelling around the closet in our new bedroom. (Yes, I am still at it! Haha) I accidentally smeared green paint onto them when I painted the walls several weeks ago. So, hopefully, I will get the last painting job done tomorrow before Lilli comes back, and then I’ll get started on the guest room. Just as long as it all gets done before the 23rd of December, when my parents and my sister come over for Christmas! ❤

Haha, another long post! I will leave you now, though, and wish you a wonderful Friday and weekend. Many hugs and much, much love.

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

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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

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End of photo bomb. ;-*

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

Faded Memories

This past Thursday we went for a drive to an old house left to the touch of the elements for a long, long time. Jay’s great grandmother was born there and even though it is run down and falling apart, somehow I found it the most charming place I have visited in a long time.

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To get here we drove through the forest on a small road–you know the ones that basically have two tracks and grass growing in the middle?

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And all along this road sat only one other house. In better condition, but apart from the lawn around the house partially mowed it appeared uninhabited. The windows were boarded up. Perhaps to save them from being broken, like all the windows at Jay’s great grandmother’s childhood home are.

Jay told me about this place when I was in Sweden recently. He messaged me some photos and I knew instantly I wanted to see it for myself. I hope we will go back there again.

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After we were done exploring, we went back to Jay’s uncle and his wife to have coffee. Jay’s uncle is actually a photographer himself and he took some great photos of Lilli during her naming ceremony, among other occasions.

It was a windy but beautiful evening, so I took the opportunity to walk around by myself after Jay’s uncle showed us his grape vines and green house. (I would love to get my very own green house where I can grow herbs and vegetables.)

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I have mentioned–a while ago now–that I love trees. My favourite tree is the aspen tree, and apparently it’s considered a pest around here. It spreads easily and isn’t worth much, according to Jay. Well, I think it is very beautiful–especially the ones with that signifying lichen growing on them. I think it is the only tree that gets them, but I don’t know why.

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Road trips to remote places left to nature’s own laws are among my favourite things. And it was so nice to get to do one with Jay, too, since he usually isn’t up for it. He did seem to enjoy himself just as much as the rest of us, so maybe there will be more in the future. I hope so.

This post was in response to The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. Thank you so much for reading, and I wish you a lovely Sunday evening. ❤

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. ❤

 

Unusual Moments

Yesterday afternoon I took a drive up along Ångermanälven. The plan was aimless driving and spontaneous images. Usually when I want a photo trip like that I go alone. Somehow I feel more free to do those spur-of-the-moment stops, and get lost in my own little world when I do not have to keep others in mind. Seeing as this holiday in Sweden is soon coming to an end–we leave on Sunday night to drive to Stockholm and the ferry–I also wanted to make the most out of these last days.

To my father, nature and the outdoors has a different meaning. He loves it, but he would rather pick mushrooms or fish or take some sausages to grill. Do things. Not sit in a car and wait for someone to pick random routes based on a feeling. And once the purpose of the trip is fulfilled, he goes home. So when he wanted to come along, too, I was surprised. My mother is a little more like me–she sees beyond a forest, beyond the trees and lakes and mountains. Colours and light, magical moments–she gets them, too. But she still laughs at me when I suddenly dive down and fall into the strangest positions to capture whatever catches my eye.

So off we went. Lilli, my mother, my father, Loke and I. We were out for over four hours and not once did I feel restrained from following whichever wonder that grabbed me. And we all enjoyed those hours.

I usually fill up my posts with lots of photos. Today, I am only sharing one. And perhaps not the most usual subject, either.

I wish you all a lovely Saturday. ❤

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Setting The Inner Fire Free

Building bridges and connecting with my peers is something I as a child spared no thought on as how-to or even that it was a concept to ponder. I lived very much in my own world, and at least before I got into my later teens, I was quite content with having that one friend. Later on, before understanding myself, I went through some frustrating and confusing experiences in meeting and connecting with others. Today, I am at a point in my life where I am grateful for all these different relationships–both good and bad. They have taught me to understand myself and others better, and have lead me to accept that I am still happy with only a few friends.

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With that said, I do like to socialise. I really love meeting and connecting with others and joining conversations. Very often, however, I find myself so engrossed in just listening to what everyone has to say that I forget to actively partake. While I suspect I at times come across as the silent one of few words or suddenly a lot of words, only to sit back and be quiet again, it has never been for the lack of interest or that I haven’t been present. All the things I hear, I take them in and then I ponder (except for when several people speak on top of each other and my brain automatically switches to a place far, far away). So sometimes by the time I have gathered what to say, the conversation usually has moved on.

The same goes for being asked questions–I like to have some time with it before I can connect it in my mind and offer a reply. When I feel a prompt answer is needed, especially to questions I haven’t been asked before, I might end up agonising over the things I say. They fly out of my head and I think that is not how I truly feel, that is not what I really wanted to say. This was something I truly despised about school when I was younger, constantly wishing don’t pick me, don’t pick me as the teacher’s eye wandered across the heads in class. And when I did get picked, I had spent all that time wishing myself away instead of thinking of an answer.

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This comes close to how much I used to worry about saying the wrong thing and guarding every word. This isn’t that. But I think they are linked. I wonder if maybe it triggered what later became a fear of being misconstrued. As a teenager, for example, it didn’t occur to me to worry about organising my words before they came out. I just went along with it and “edited” as I spoke. Which sometimes resulted in a lot of strange conversations and lengthy explanations that perhaps made no sense, or were too complex. Small talk, for instance, is something I have had to practice for years to avoid simple “So how’s things?” becoming a recollection of my entire past week. Now remember, Lotta, this is a polite small talk thing to say, you are not required to bare your soul. I am still not entirely sure always how to tell apart the sincere queries and the polite ones.

This is where this bridge comes in–my way of connecting back with others. My ping-back. Through blogging and through photography I get to truly share my innermost self. I get the time I need to slow down, gather and connect all that spins ’round and ’round in my head, and deliver it when I am in harmony with it. I get to sit with the words of others and the words of myself and let them get acquainted.

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When I started blogging, I had to just go for it. I knew how this thinking process of mine tends to become a labyrinth I get lost in. So blogging is also a way for me to find a balance, to connect back to myself after all these years of second-guessing every single little detail. To share thoughts and photographs a part of me feels are nothing special, not entirely me just yet, gives it substance for me to work with. I hold myself accountable. Through blogging I am every day reminding myself of what I have learned so far, what I still need to work on, and that whatever the outcome I am one step further than yesterday.

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So that is why most of these photos are images I have at one point shared already, only they are different. They evolve just as I do and my photography does, thanks to joining online communities and breaking the silence on social media. By reaching out at my own pace, yet trying to take that extra step continuously and challenging myself, I am in turn inspired by all the people around me. I learn things, pick up on tips and tricks, and I secure one more stone in this bridge I am building to reach my goals.

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Without others, without you or any of those I will come into contact with in the future, these visions and dreams of mine would have remained a hazy and abstract canvas in the back of my mind. A thought I would have pondered until I realised all the opportunities had passed me by.

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And the most wonderful thing with both photography and drawing is that I do not need to organise this brain of mine. To get to the place I want to shoot, yes, somtimes. And to start that drawing, definitely. But once I begin my head becomes quiet and peaceful. Those innermost feelings and perceptions that may be too complex to put into words can be shaped with brush and pen strokes, light and shadow, colours and tones.

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So even if I am content on my own, and with sporadic and spontaneous meetings with my closest friends, I wouldn’t be able to live this journey fully toward my biggest dreams without forging connections. Without these mediums of blogging, Instagram, and other platforms, through which I reach out to people, my art and my photography would have remained a whimsical hobby of mine hidden away in drawing pads and folders on my computer. And I may have only just left the starting line, I may not have a gallery or a web shop yet, but I don’t see it as a hopeless wish anymore, nor do I feel silly for setting that wish free. I know that the only way I can fail is if I stop reaching out, stop trying to connect.

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Thank you each and every one of you, from the bottom of my heart, for whichever part you have in this bridge of mine. Lastly, I want to leave you with one of my all-time favourite quotes.

I wish you all a wonderful day. ❤

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
Albert Schweitzer

Capturing That Moment

Good evening, everyone. In this writing moment I am on the sofa and I can’t for the world get off it. But those days are allowed, and sometimes oh-so-needed, right?

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Last night I was out with my camera, Loke and Jay. We took a walk along the back road while I marvelled at the moon. It was so incredibly beautiful, and it really hit me how much my photography has developed because the moon is something I in the past have not been able to capture. Not like this. So I am really excited to show you the result. Luckily I have Lightroom on my phone as well, but I’m leaving out the usual other adjustments–like the logo, for example. Too lazy to get up for the computer.

This one I actually sneak-edited a little last night to make that moon pop. 😁

It wasn’t all that cold last night but for some reason some of my fingers are more sensitive to cooler weather, and they turn deathly pale; I lose all sensation and it takes forever before they return to normal.

Today we celebrated Lilli’s nameday. So last night, after putting my computer to sleep, I decided to stay up and prepare. I made a strawberry cake, did some cleaning, and set the table ready for our visitors. As I stood there, decorating the cake, the mist came creeping across the fields and the sky was breathtakingly gorgeous. Pinks, lilacs–like a soft pastel painting. I wanted so badly to go outside but my mind was set on getting the cake done. Around 6 a.m. I finally put the finished cake into the fridge and grabbed my camera. 

The pastel canvas had already faded in the brilliance of a rising sun, but the mist still clung to the dewy morning. 

Lately I have used my macro lens a lot, so I took my wide angle this morning. It really pushes that mist into the background but I still love these photos. It was so calm and quiet, apart from a cawing jackdaw curiously watching me (or did it answer the cooing pigeons perching on the power lines?).

Before returning to the house I looked out over one of our wheat fields. They are really springing out now, and I look so much forward to seeing those golden waves in the sunset. I cannot grasp how fast the time has gone. Not long ago they were little baby sproutlings, and soon enough it will be time for harvest. For now, I am just enjoying these colours. And the fields look so dreamy when dew flirts with the dancing mist. 

I hope you have all had a lovely weekend, and I wish you a continued peaceful Sunday. I will go to bed early tonight to make up for the hours I lost. All the same it was all so worth it. ❤️

The Passing Of Time

Transition, change, and the passing of time. For this week’s photo challenge I actually had just the spot in mind, but it wasn’t until today I gave my new-found project a bit of a break. And of course the clouds decided to rush on in. So I took a stroll through my photo library and found some other photos that will do just as well.

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I am sure I have seen the Lingonberry flower on many occasions throughout my life, but it wasn’t until the other week, when I went for a walk after the rain to take photos along our little road that I noticed them. Actually acknowledged the Lingonberry bush blooms. So simple and so delicate. Just like most native flowers here in our part of the world. I really like that. And I love lingonberry jam with meatballs (or elk stew), mashed potatoes, and creamy brown sauce. In a couple of months, those quite sour but oh-so-delicious and healthy berries will have taken these flowers’ place.

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These Dandelion blowballs will soon be but a memory of another spring and early summer having passed. We are now in July already and I cannot grasp how fast the time simply flies. It reminds me of this quote my brother used to have on his DeviantArt account (I think it was DeviantArt): Time flies like the wind, fruit flies like bananas.

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There is something about moss that is very dear and special to me. Not only is it a recurring feature in both John Bauer’s and other old Swedish illustrators’ work, but it instills a sense of mystery and magic of those days of old. I remember when I took that photo of myself sitting on a mossy rock. I forgot to mention, then, that beneath all that moss were rolls of seemingly ancient, rusty barbed wire. I sat stiff as a bowstring while taking those photos, exercising great care not to shift my weight. I wonder which generation before us left it there?

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I have both heard and read that the beard lichen only survives where the air is unpolluted and clean. With all these climate changes and chaotic articles about how we are living on borrowed time and destroying our world, I look at these lichen (and much else in nature) and I cannot help but think that nature has always been a master at adapting to change. If we cannot find a way, I have faith in that nature will. It would do us so much good to have a little faith, too. This magnificent world we live in is far less fragile than we seem to think it is. Or so I personally believe. That is not to say we should carry on with our destructive habits, and I do believe nature’s way of stabilising itself, regaining its balance, is potent enough and of such magnitude it could destroy us.

I hope you all had fun with this week’s photo challenge. It’s so great how it makes us stop and think, to contemplate life around us from different perspectives. Later this evening or tomorrow I am going to have a peek at what you have come up with. For now, I wish you all a cozy Sunday. Thank you so much for reading. ❤