Thursday Thoughts – A Life’s Work

Söderto is a tiny place in the southern part of Skåne, Sweden, where Karl-Göran Persson built a fortress for himself, his family and friends – in case of an attack from Russia. Karl-Göran died in 1975, and he had spent his whole life building and reinforcing this fortress.

One day we decided to try and find it, all of us intrigued by the story. So this spring we went, the three of us. And it became a strange adventure, a day to remember. You can come along if you want to…

It is not a very big place, Söderto, and the remains of his own home nearby were gone.

Karl-Göran was a simple man, a single farmer, and well known in the neighborhood for his warm heart, for his building and for his transporting all material on his bicycle.

He even mastered setting rails and railroad ties into the fortress – all by himself. The thought was to build a balcony.

He used what he could find to reinforce his fortress, be it iron beds, chamber pots, baskets or bicycle parts. Look closely at the pictures, and maybe you will find them…

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After so many years of withering down, it is not advised to go inside anymore. But…

there is a friendly silence, a loving atmosphere when you walk here… you can feel his spirit still being there – in his life’s work.

A soft whisper in the fields, and the beauty of the landscape touches your soul.

Thinking of him, Karl-Göran, I believe he would have loved it that we came all that way to visit. And how much we enjoyed it too.

Just see how beautifully the villagers keep his memory.

 

 

Thursday Thoughts – Marken

Welcome to Marken, a village in North Holland, the Netherlands. This 2000 – inhabitant – village makes up a peninsula that attracts thousands of tourists every year. Because of its originality as a former small fishing town, it was considered a relic of the traditional native culture that would disappear as the modernization of the Netherlands gained pace.

In fact, the town’s history has allowed it to form an identity that’s unique in all the Netherlands.

Until 1957, Marken was an island in the Zuiderzee. In isolation from the rest of the Netherlands, it developed an independent culture – its own architecture, dialect, dress and more – that it still maintains, despite the closure of the dike that once separated it from the mainland Netherlands. When passing these characteristic wooden houses, you will reach the harbour, but similar houses can be found everywhere in the village.

Walking out on the pier, I feel summers might get hectic with all the tourists… but, let us not think about that now…

Let’s keep strolling along in the sleepy, rural tranquility. Life seems to have a pace of its own here – and somehow, I know why there were so many Dutch master painters centuries back… Had I been a painter, I would have spent weeks out here – immersed in all the colours and the rural beauty with canals, birds and farm animals.

 

 

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #38 – Weathered or Worn

Are you one of those who love things weathered or worn? I am. I love driftwood, old houses, old furniture, toys, the grey cottages up north – things with patina. Clothes with a story – leather jackets, jeans. And people? Only your fantasy sets the limit!

This week’s challenge is Weathered and/or Worn.

The other day I was driving along the familiar road between my home and Malmoe, and as usual passed the old Distillery. Every time I wonder why I do not take the time to stop the car and walk up to the old historic buildings…This time, I finally decided to return the next day – with my camera. And I was not disappointed. As usual, click to enlarge.

These are the weathered remains of one of the oldest Swedish distilleries – Sösdala Distillery, built 1860. The same year that Vladivostok was founded and Abraham Lincoln was elected president.

And most important for this distillery, home distillation of alcohol was forbidden in Sweden.

History in short says, that in 1766 the Swedish king, Adolf Frederick, decided to abolish all alcohol restrictions. This led to virtually every household making and selling alcohol. At the beginning of the 1800s, the Swedish people were drinking a lot of alcohol, from 175,000 distillers (most of them for household-production only), using tremendous amounts of grain and potatoes that otherwise would have been consumed as food, and it was later said that most men in Sweden abused alcohol. Women rarely drank alcohol, since it was considered inappropriate.

In 1830, the first moderate drinking society was started in Stockholm. A few decades later, the first fully-fledged temperence organisation was formed, and in 1850, alcohol began to be regulated by the state. Sösdala distillery was shut down in 1950.

It was forbidden to go inside, but I walked over the open space and up to the old buildings. Some of them weathered and some worn down to dilapidation. But all of them blending in with the surroundings, and being slowly and beautifully reclaimed by nature. The stillness in the air, the soft song of birds and the calls from cranes flying north this spring morning – made this a walk of harmony.

 

Welcome to the challenge! – We are so looking forward to seeing your inspirational photos and thoughts! Also, Be sure to tag your post with Lens-Artists so that others can find you in the Reader.

Before you go – We say thank you to all contributors of interesting ”history lessons”, and to Patti for hosting the  History challenge.

 

Have an inspiring week!

 

 

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #37: History

For this week’s challenge, Patti has chosen History. At first I wanted to write about Riga, the capital of Latvia, whose history begins as early as the 2nd century. But inspired by a visit there, I have chosen a piece of puppetry history instead – an art form very much alive in Latvia.

According to Wikipedia, puppetry is a form of performance that involves the manipulation of puppets – inanimate objects, that are animated or manipulated by a human called a puppeteer. The puppeteer uses movements of his/her hands, arms, or control devices such as rods or strings to move the body, head, limbs, and in some cases the mouth and eyes of the puppet. The puppeteer often speaks in the voice of the character of the puppet, and then synchronizes the movements of the puppet’s mouth with this spoken part.

The earliest puppets probably originated in Egypt, where ivory and clay articulated puppets have been discovered in tombs. Puppets are mentioned in writing as early as 422 B.C.E. In ancient Greece, Aristotle and Plato both made reference to puppetry.

This art form occurs in almost all human societies where puppets are used for entertainment through performance, as sacred objects in rituals, as symbolic effigies in celebrations such as carnivals, or as a catalyst for social and psychological change in transformative arts.

There are many different varieties of puppets, and they are made of a wide range of materials, depending on their form and intended use. They can be extremely complex or very simple in their construction. The simplest puppets are finger puppets and sock puppets. Familiar examples of hand puppets are Punch and Judy. Marionettes are suspended and controlled by a number of strings, plus sometimes a central rod attached to a control bar held from above by the puppeteer.

In Riga, we just happened to walk past the puppet theater, went inside and met – Alexander! A charming young man who showed us around and tried to explain, in broken English, about the theater and the puppets. These special ones behind the glass were handled by him alone. You can see him at work as a puppeteer in the poster shot above.

Some more history of puppetry

Many types of folk art puppetry developed in disparate regions of the world, and some are still practiced today. In Japan, the sophisticated bunraku tradition evolved out of rites practiced in Shinto temples. The Vietnamese created the unique practice of water puppetry, in which wooden puppets appear to walk in waist-high water; this was originally developed hundreds of years ago as a response to the flooding of rice fields. Indonesian shadow puppets are another example of a long-held folk tradition. Ceremonial puppets were also used in several pre-Columbian Native American cultures.

In medieval Italy, marionettes were used in the production of morality plays by the Christian church. The famous comedic puppet tradition of commedia dell’arte evolved in the face of censorship by the church. Later, the plays of William Shakespeare were sometimes performed with puppets in place of actors.

In Sweden there is no great tradition of Puppetry, but it still exists as an art form for small children. In Latvia they have several performances every day. For both young and older children – and for adults as well. Do you have this art form in your country?

Nowadays the Art of Puppetry is experiencing something of a real renaissance all over the world, touching hearts and minds and engaging new spectators of all ages. Puppetry is a unique cultural treasure, which invites you to experience such a magical way of art that cannot be created or substituted by any other form of art. The task of our puppet theatre is to introduce this special kind of theatre arts in such a way, that the wonders of puppetry world would find their home in the heart of every child.

Vilnis Beķeris

General Director of Latvia Puppet Theatre

 

 

 

Finally, some history of the theater in Riga

The early beginnings of the Puppet Theater date back to 1942, when during the war the National Art Ensemble of the Latvian SSR ( Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic) was formed in the city of Ivanov in Russia. From there originates a group of puppeteers, whose shows were watched by evacuated soldiers and Latvian people. On the 4th of October 1944 the National Puppet Theater of the Latvian SSR opened, run by poet Mirdza Ķempe and writer and translator Jānis Žīgurs.

 

Thank you to Patti for letting us share so many things, events and places of historic interest. Welcome to join in the historic tour! And please don’t forget the tag Lens-Artists so people can find you in the reader!

 

 

 

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #35: Architecture

As Amy’s challenge this week is Architecture, I invite you to follow me to Umeå for a visit to a very special hotel.

The Grand Hotel in Umeå, by architect Viktor Åström, was built 1894-95. The facade is in neorenaissance. Close up to this beauty is U&Me Hotel, opened in 2014, by architects from Snøhetta, and interior design by architect- and design Stylt Trampoli.

The more than 120 years old Seafarers’ House and Grand Hotel in central Umeå has been exquisitely renovated, and the concept of historic influences from the seven seas is so unique that the hotel was elected World’s Best New Boutique Hotel 2014.

The whole interior is spectacular…

and some pieces remind you of a shipwreck.

The old Grand Hotel is closely connected to (a real juxtaposition) U&Me, something that feels a bit awkward from the outside – while the inside might be described as a smooth swim through a coral reef…

Thank you, Amy, for an inspiring challenge and the opportunity to follow in your footsteps to one of the new seven wonders of the world!

 

 

Lofoten – Going South, to Å

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It takes a whole day to drive down from Narvik to Å, 380 kilometres, and you have to stop several times just to walk out in all that beauty…

Not far from Svolvær, we reached Kabelvåg, and stopped to admire the grand Lofoten Cathedral (1898) – all in wood – that takes impressive 1200 visitors. Very beautifully built, but in need of restoration and painting now.

Lofotr Viking Museum in Borg is the place where the grandest house ever from the Viking Era was found, and a copy of it was built in natural size.

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As the roads grew more narrow and winding, the sun went behind the clouds and was mostly veiled in the soft fog. This, of course, sometimes made the landscape even more interesting.

Looking behind us, the clear skies were still there though.

Winding roads among the small islands, and

grass clad roofs everywhere. A landscape reminding of a Tolkien story.

Finally, after being mistaken several times – we reached Å, where we were going to spend the night. Meet more of Å in the next post!

Leaving Abisko – for Norway and Lofoten

In the header is Lapporten (Swedish: ”The Lapponian Gate”) or Tjuonavagge (Northern Sami: Čuonjávággi, ”Goose Valley”). This is a U-shaped valley in Lapland in northern Sweden, and one of the most familiar and famous natural sights of the mountains there.

Driving towards the Norwegian border, we left lake Torne Träsk behind us heading for the coast and Narvik, Norway.

This is a rough, high mountain area with not that much vegetation. The Norwegians seem to love it and their cottages (No. ”Hytter”) are everywhere perched on the flat rocks.

Staying in your own hytte is in the Norwegian national soul just as our cottages are in the Swedish soul. They vary in standard from no water or electricity (the ”real thing”, according to many) to luxury houses.

The view was tightening, but we relished every minute of the chilly fog and the fresh air. Three months in a sauna is not my cup of tea.

Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past

Paula’s traces are many, and this time she takes us for a beautiful late walk in Padua. An Italian gem.

I thought I would take you to some totally different traces – a hidden gem named Monastero de Ribas de Sil, in Spain. Sil is the river down in the ravine below. And these traces of the past were very different from anything I had visited before.

The monastery was built in the 12th century by Dominican monks,  and finally left to be reclaimed by nature in the beginning of the 19th century.

Significant traces are the beautiful stone walls surrounding the monastery. So many hours’ work for the monks – but so beautifully constructed.

The buildings themselves are totally hidden in the greenery. Not until we were some 15 meters from the old archway, we found them. Standing with a magnificent view, high up on a rock overlooking the river Sil – but of this we could see nothing. Everything was buried in lush green – according to Nature’s design.

The open space in front of the remaining arcade. It must once have been a very beautiful place – and still is.

The impressive church is still complete – and the only light shining through the single window – and open door.

This monastery was almost impossible to find – no map worked. I guess that is just the way it should be. It was a place for hermits. A place of peace and silence. I found it there.

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WPC: All-Time Favorites

I want to thank you again, for inspiring us all to keep blogging – share our experiences and learn from each other. It has been good, so good. And tonight I truly feel sorry about losing this opportunity.

Many of us got to know each other through WPC, now some of us maybe will not have the strength, discipline or imagination to blog that frequently again. But, even in the desert there is beauty…So, I hope we will! – You have been a great help to make blogging fun and addictive in a positive way.

It will not be easy to choose an all-time favorite…I don’t believe it is easier to choose  three or four either. I will think about it for an hour or two…meanwhile, I send my love to you all, and especially to: Krista, Jeff, Michelle, Erica, Ben, Sheri, Donncha, Jen, Sara and Cheri.

I cannot choose a favorite of mine among you either…and why should I? I just felt that Cheri, your words added to your picture – those words touched the heart of my blogging.

My choices… there is much feeling connected to the pictures chosen, memories and heart…While some of them were favorites of yours, some of them maybe are only favorites of mine. But they all are some years old – otherwise they could not be All-Time Favorites, could they? (More of my criteria at the end of the post. )

In the header, a lonely beach on the east coast of New Zealand. My family traveled together for a whole month, and we walked alone on this beach, each one of us…contemplating the beauty of Earth, and the end of our journey. Here is my son listening to the ocean.

Then – a hot night in Barcelona, my family and I was out walking and ended up in the middle of a gigantic motor bike gathering. Foreign feeling – but magical.

This is also a family hiking memory – very dear to me. My daughter resting on a giant pine branch in the Spanish mountains, somewhere between Spain and France.

Spain again – Segovia and its famous aqueduct. I had never seen anything like it – it goes through the city center and is still standing after centuries and centuries. No concrete, no nails – only the stones themselves. I walked, sat, stood in the steps contemplating – for hours. Enigmatic shadows as well.

This photo was taken at our summer house, when I still had both dogs, Mille and Totti. No other photo of them shows so on the spot their special temperaments. Now, who is the wild boy and who is the law abiding one? Fond memories.

My dear blogging friend Maria (Mariayarri), in Jämtland, took me to the Tännforsen waterfall in winter. I had never seen a gigantic waterfall frozen before. It took my breath away – and I remember, many of yours’ as well.

An early spring day some years ago, it started snowing on my way back home from the forest walk. This deer shed was still standing. (Now gone) The photo became a favorite with both my readers and me.

My Princess of the Night in flower for the first time. We waited for hours – and then everything was over within 20-30 minutes. A Wonder. This flower is about 20 centimeters and the scent fills the whole room. A photo is not enough to grasp the event…you need all your senses!

Meeting another dear blogging friend, Seonaid (Greenmackenzie) – from Scotland. She does not blog anymore, but I got the opportunity to visit her two times when she lived just outside Edinburgh. She and her lovely family had three Bearded Collies, and two of them looked just like my Amanda ( – before Mille and Totti). Those few, magical days with them will never leave me. Also a photo with feeling, showing well the character of the dog.

This photo was taken on a rainy trip to China. It rained every day – and the wedding couple here had a speedy walk on the Bond in Shanghai, waiting for their photographer. In Sweden there is a saying that rain in your crown on your wedding day – will give you a happy marriage. I hope this one was/is! This shot was a favorite with Sylvain Landry when he had his weekly prompts.

 

Catedrales beach, Spain. We just happened to find it – a World Heritage – it was not in the guide book…Kilometers of rock formations of enigmatic size and shapes. We spent several hours walking in the sunset. Incredible feeling that such a marvelous place was not marked out in any book. It made the experience even more magical.

The last photo, of Lhasa and the Pothala Palace, also marks what I see as my criteria for All-Time Favorites: Deep feeling, being in awe, magical surroundings, beauty, dream fulfilled or come true.