Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Snapshot of the day

A picture from todays walk in the woods.

A surprise came to me...

It came with the mail today, and I was much surprised to find a glass insulator made in U.S. in the package. It has the hue of sea green, just as grandma´s roof over the kitchen door once had.

I longed for one after going to the glass museum at Wheaton together with LS. And now I have it, thanks to LS! You´ve should have seen my smile!

Thank you L! and also K. who brought it to Sweden.

Artpiece by AnS. Skyttåsa gård, Södermanland.
I hope it´s OK to show it, tell me if not!

In US people go out and look for the old insulators in the wild and sometimes they sell them. The picture above is from a persons homepage. I will look for the green dishes from my childhood... it would be fun to have one! I don´t know if they are used anymore.

I borrowed the picture here


Stamp of the Day: Halloween pumpkins... Austria?
We carved pumpkins a few nights ago too, and tonight is Halloween.
Kids and I will go out and try to get some free and unhealthy candy. More reports will follow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Book review: Comfort me with Apples by Ruth Reichl

"The wine was strong. The garlic was pungent... Before long the entire room as giddy with garlic euphoria. Wrapped up in fumes of garlic, we ate galantines of pigeon, duck, and quail with garlic mosaics. ...Platters of spring lamb were brought out, surrounded by three garlic-infused purees. We washed the meat down with oceans of deep, dark Zinfandel. "[in California at a garlic extravaganza]

"What is that?" I asked. "How dong", he said. "It is always cheap, and it is always hot. It is made of miscellaneous meat; it could be anything - snake, muskrat, baby lion. The recipe calls for lots of chilies, pepper, and spice to mask the flavor of the meat. " [ in Thailand tasting local food]

This little memoir called Comfort me with Apples is written by Ruth Reichl, the current editor of fancy-pantsy food magazine Gourmet (yes, we subscribe), and former restaurant critic for New York Times, where she dressed up in different wigs and costumes so the chefs shouldn't recognize her (as you can read in another great book called Garlic and Sapphires).

This book is how it all got started, how she lived in a house shared with friends in Berkeley, California, and one day was offered to start reviewing restaurants without really having any practice at it. It is several stories in one book, both a true description of the building of a career and its ups and downs and uncertainties and happiness and the love for food and the people that make and eat it. But also a description of the dissolution of her marriage at the same time. She talks honestly, funnily, and sometimes very emotionally about finding love, losing it, and in the meantime, eating good, comforting food, and less good food.

She travels to Paris, to China, and to Thailand to write about the food and the people, and her book manages to create living people. You see living dining tables heaped with wonderfully smells of garlic, lamb, fruits, French cheeses, wine, and fresh-picked vegetables in front of your eyes. I loved this book; it sustained me on a long airplane trip where they didn't even serve peanuts anymore. (And yes, there are recipes in it too!)

Rings and things

There is some bizarre, but cool jewelry here, inspired by Greek architecture, nuts and bolts, bike tires, etc.

How about some clothes pins in your ears, or some screws?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Stamp of the Day: Buckminster Fuller

In remembrance of a post long since posted.

Most Recent Comments

I added the little sidebar feature for the most recent comments a few days ago, but it has problems:
- Only 5 comments
- not updated regularly = delay = not most recent comments

It is weird that Blogger can't provide a better feature than this.

Now, my question is to you readers and contributors on this blog - should we keep it or delete it? The RSS feed function is much better, and O.K. has given instructions before on how to use that (also in the side bar, further down).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Half anniversary!

Today it is exactly 6 months since we started this blog. Just thought you might like to know. We started with some Swedish poetry and a road to nowhere. Since then we have travelled through Tour de France, botanical gardens, patterns or not patterns, stamp of the day, book and movie reviews, Yellowstone and other travels in the US, art and design and the two together, and of course, Picture of the Week and snapshots galore. Keep up the good work everybody! This is fun!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Art with stamps

Check out this cool postage stamp bowl made by Amanda Hone.

Stamp of the Day: Eastern Bluebird

Yesterday, when AREA and I were driving home up the long hill, we saw four Bluebirds flying right in front of the car. They are only as big as sparrows but more slender, and look really bright blue even in the air while flying. I love these birds, and I think we need to put up some bluebird bird houses on our property and see if we can get some around our house too. I know they are around, since AnS has seen them sitting on our fence.

In Yellowstone there is another species, Mountain Bluebird, with a male that is completely blue. Amazing what evolution can create...

Still life (stilleben): Rails and gourds

Scene on our front steps outside our house, October 2007.

Stamp of the Day: Hattifnattar/Hattifatteners

Men hu så hemskt, därinne satt
blott hattifnatt vid hattifnatt
och luktade av åskan bränt
de är elektriska, som känt

But oh the horror, inside was
hattifatteners alone, side by side
smelling from the lightning burnt
electrical they are, as commonly known

About the Hattifatteners (Hattifnattar, Hattivatit) from the stories of Moomin:

Small white ghost-like creatures that resemble worn socks. Hattifatteners are always on the move and travel in large groups (but always in odd numbers), such as boat convoys. Their only goal in life is to reach the horizon. During their travels they never say a word to each other, and it's doubtful that they have the ability to talk at all, they seem to communicate solely by telepathy -- except in the comics, where they complain bitterly to their host Moomin about the lack of food, cocktails and beds. The Hattifatteners cannot see very well, but their sense of touch is very strong, and they can feel ground vibrations and electricity. Hattifatteners assemble once a year when they "recharge" in a thunderstorm. At this time they should be avoided since they are highly charged and can give you electrical burns. Despite physiologically resembling animals, Hattifatteners grow from seeds. Planting Hattifattener seeds where someone has taken up residence is an effective way to get rid of him/her. Hattifatteners will only grow from this seed if it is sown on Midsummer Eve. (Wikipedia)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Snapshot: Cat sisters

- "I am going to eat your tail!", says Smokey.
- "Whatever", Ella answers.

Mouse house (mushus)

Strange creatures live in our kitchen, like this cheesy mouse and its house. The Swedish knife is for sizing and PP provided idea, design, and artwork.

African sculptures - Chapungu

At Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, they recently had a fantastic exhibit of contemporary stone sculptures from Zimbabwe, called Chapungu. The artists use several types of stone, and typical is that by making it either very smooth and polished or a rough surface, they enhance the shapes of the stone.

" Chapungu, pronounced cha-POON-goo, is a metaphor for the Bateleur eagle, Terathopius ecaudatus, (right) a powerful bird of prey that can fly up to 300 miles in a day at 30 to 50 miles per hour." (link)
"Animals, families, and creatures of legend spring to life in these monumental hand-carved sculptures from Zimbabwe. Carved from opal stone, cobalt, and springstone, the statues depict their African creators’ traditional close bond to nature and the environment."(link)

I found the interplay between smooth and rough fascinating,
as in this stone block carved as a hen with chicks.
Two stone giraffes.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lines with emotions II

Since I never noticed how the background colors of "La Linea" changes according to his mood until LS pointed it out, I'm posting another one where it is very clear. This one is great too.


Lines with emotions

La Linea, a very familiar character for anyone who watched swedish television during the seventies to the nineties. More of his adventures and hot temper on TV5:s site and on Youtube.


The Dot and the Line

Stamp of the Day: Mumin / Moomin

I find stamps of some of the characters from the books of Moomin suitable today.


Hur gick det sen?

”Från mjölkbutiken klockan fem, ett litet mumintroll gick hem.
En kanna full med mjölk han bar och vägen lång och kuslig var och vinden suckade och ven i skogens alla mörka trän.
Det var ej långt från skymningen.
Vad tror du hände sen?”

"From the milk store at five o'clock, a little Moomintroll went home.
A jug filled with milk he carried on the road long and eerie and the wind sighed and whined in all of the forest's dark trees.
The dusk was not far away.
What do you think happened next?"

I was reminded of this children's book by this post, since they both have parts of their pages cut out. In Tove Jansson's illustrated book "Hur gick det sen?" (What happened next?) holes are made in each page so one gets a partial view of the next page, pulling the story forward and keeping the suspense high. The cutouts can be a hole in a treetrunk, a window or the background of the trees in a dark forest.

View of a page, borrowed from a good blog post about book design at Nittonde stolen (in swedish).

There is a new translation into english of this book by the acclaimed poet Sophie Hannah, but they kept the original english title "The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My" which sounds a little dull to me. But her interpretation of the story seems good judging from this snippet:

"Here’s little Moomintroll, none other,
Hurrying home with milk for mother.
Quick, Moomintroll, it’s nearly night.
Run home while there’s a bit of light.
Don’t hang around in woods like these.
Strange creatures lurk between the trees.
The wind begins to howl and hiss.
Now, guess what happens after this..."

I haven't read this book since I was a little kid, but I have vivid memories of Tove's great illustrations and the curiosity of what would happen next. I think I'll have to visit the section of children's books at the library soon. If I disguise myself with a beanie, shorts with suspenders and a slingshot in the back pocket no-one will notice. :)

(Listening to while posting: AFX - Entrance to Exit)


We just passed 5000 visitors to this blog based on the Clustrmaps! Of course we have had more, because that function wasn't added until months after the blog started. But it is great to see how the red dots are spreading out across the globe. Welcome all readers! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More (eatable) Lego-stuff

A piece of lego for lunch?

They also sell a corkscrew and bottle opener in lego and some magnetic pieces for the fridge...


Inland Empire: Lost in Lynchland

Laura/Nikki/Sue ponders over...

...cryptic messages on the wall...

...before diving down the rabbit hole into wonderland.

The film actor Nikki (Laura Dern) gets the leading part playing against Devon (Justin Theroux) in a story about infidelity. When Nikki and Devon, just like their characters Sue and Billy are attracted to each other, Nikki warns Devon about her jealous husband but interrupts herself with "Damn, this sounds just like our script!". In that moment you hear the director's voice, "Cut! What is going on?" and you are bounced right back to the set in the studio, startling not only the viewer but also Nikki and Devon. From there David Lynch's "Inland Empire" (2006) dives down into the rabbit hole where the dreamlike story's loose threads spins off on a tangent and makes you feel lost, only to reconnect with the other threads into a braid of parallel stories, disregarding time and space in a way that left me gasping. What is real? Who is sneaking around in background of the set? And where does the traveling circus fit in?

Sitcom according to David Lynch, complete with an out of sync laugh track.

David Lynch used this "story feeding back into itself"-effect to some degree in "Mulholland Drive" (2001) but in "Inland Empire" he cranked it up all the way to "eleven", making it confusing but effective. Laura Dern's portrayal of her multiple characters is easily one of the best performances I've seen in a long time, unfortunately I think the likelihood of the Oscar's committee taking notice is slim.

The ketchup effect. ;)

This film is fairly hard to watch with its non-linear story, and I can only think of a few persons that I without hesitation could recommend it to, but for me this film, on a scale from one to ten, goes to eleven. Lynch's best, not easiest, so far! That this film gets (relative) wide distribution, although it hanged by a thread in Sweden after Triangelfilms bankruptcy, is nothing less than astonishing. It is as if the tray sheets at McDonalds all of a sudden would be made by Salvador Dali.

(Listening to while posting: Keith Jarret - Over the rainbow)

A cake for Lego fans!

Eat a Brick!

LA, will you make us one?

Simply amazing and beautiful machine

This is at first, the kind of solution that on paper would seem too fantastic to actually build. Its quite poetic in operation.

Stamp of the Day: Photography

Back to the basics (see O.K.'s post below).

Leafy greens

Plants from Missouri Botanical Garden (photos by LS).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"A truly crappy lens to love"

The magazine CAP&Design writes:

"Sometimes perfect isn't very good. Those days when the megapixel-race feels particularly infantile and you'd like to take about 20 steps back to the world of LOMO, the cheap polariod and the Instamatic, the company Loreo saves the day with their 'Lens in a cap'. It delivers fuzzy pictures and has all possible optic faults."

SOLD! Cheap, light and made out of genuine plastic. What else could one ask for? Further report when it arrives.

(Listening to while posting: Natacha Atlas - Sweeter than any sweets)

Strange maps website

Here is an interesting website, a blog focusing on unusual maps.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Newest addition to family?

There was some commotion this morning when LA said he had a snake visiting him in his bed - the rest of us haven't seen it , and we don't know what species it might have been. After the snake showed up in the third-floor apartment I lived in in the Bronx, I am not surprised that this might happen here too. That time it was a pet garter snake that had escaped, but if there was a snake in LA's room this morning it was a wild one. We don't have poisonous snakes on our property, so that is a relief at least. We will keep you updated, and hope the cats live up to their pedigree by catching it (and eating it?).

Maybe this happened because I got a Halloween costume of Medusa for AREA two days ago?

Fall in Pennsylvania

I love the fall in Northeastern USA with all its tree colors and high, clear and blue skies. Chilly mornings with dew in the spiderwebs, and still warm during the days. However, this year, as well as last year and the year before is too hot! Global warming really exist. Our tomato plants are still flowering, no sign of frost or even close to it, and humid air from the tropics. In the last few days, after the first big rains in months, it has finally changed to cooler weather. PP and I went on a hike last week at Ralph Stover State Park in Pennsylvania to see some of the fall colors.
We walked on a 61 m tall cliff ledge at High Rocks along the Tohickon Creek (now nearly dried out) and you can see for miles over the forest below. This area was donated by author James Michener to the state, who is known in Sweden too (remember Hawaii and other geographic and historical novels?). Tohickon is an old Indian name meaning Deer-Bone-Creek. Maybe the deers fell off the cliffs? Turkey vultures and a red-tailed hawk sailed in the air above, and I bet this is a great spot for watching migrating raptors. The maples are red and yellow, oaks brown to yellow (some still green), hickories and walnuts bright yellow, and so on.
Judging from the white bird poop marks, this is the place where the bald and golden eagles rest their wings while looking for prey over the forest. Lots of people come here to climb on the rock cliffs, which is forbidden. There are signs that there has been deaths and injuries, and there is also an emergency phone by the parking lot since cell phone reception is terrible.
Nice color-coordination between my backpack and an oak leaf.

When the Indians lived here the forest probably looked the same in the fall. The old trail we went on could have been an Indian trail and it is easy to imagine them stopping to look at the view over the cliffs. When you walk in the forest you hear giant black walnuts and acorns fall down around you. If a walnut hits your car or head, you can get a real bump/dent.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Restaurant Review: Via Ponte, Stockton, NJ

You know that feeling when you have been out hiking, feel a little bit sweaty and dirty, but OK enough to sit down at a real food place and your stomach is very empty? It starts raining outside, actually pours down, and you are hungry and want something real and good and warm? This is what happened to us at such a moment.
We were in Stockton, needed lunch, and saw this little Italian place we had never heard of before. We walked in as the only customers, took a quick peek at the menu, saw "traditional Sicilian pizza" and decided to stay. And we were lucky! Welcome to the new restaurant Via Ponte in Stockton, NJ, which has only been open for six weeks.
We ordered two kinds of pizzas, with thin crust and cooked in a brick oven. Napolitana (right side below), with simple tomato, fresh mozzarella cheese, and anchovies was heaven on bread!! Second was Ortolana (no, not the sparrow), with olives (which I now happily eat), mozzarella, roasted peppers, artichokes and onion - also really good. But the Napolitana was the best. If you ever come to NJ, go to this restaurant. It is a lot better than Magma in Princeton, which is good as well, but this is really mouth watering. It is worth driving at least 20 miles for. It helps of course that Stockton is right on the Delaware river in a scenic area, and that the restaurant has a giant mural of a steam train on the outside. The old tracks are now a great bike path along the river and Delaware Raritan Canal. Bridge Street (Via Ponte) leads to the old iron bridge across Delaware River and Pennsylvania.
They have other traditional Italian food that we need to come back and sample soon. I am sure the kids will love their pizzas, which are so different from the American standard type usually filled with thick dough, cheap cheese and mass market tomatoes. So go to Via Ponte (13 Bridge Street, Stockton, NJ, 609-397-9397), and enjoy the real thing. Another review is here.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Poem of the day

We haven't had these for a while, so here is one to enjoy and think about by Olav H. Hauge, a Norwegian poet writing in nynorsk. He died in 1994.

Don't Come to Me with the Entire Truth
by Olav H. Hauge

Don't come to me with the entire truth.
If I feel thirsty, don't bring the ocean,
nor heaven if I need a light,
but just a thought, a drop, a particle,
as birds leaving water carry away only drops,
and the wind a grain of salt.

Translated from the Norwegian by Robert Bly

Friday, October 19, 2007

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.

Sweden is marketing outdoor clothes

This article at the Swedish State Department's website brings back memories - look they even have a Kånken backpack from Fjällräven! And my first backpack, a christmas present from my parents, were a Haglofs one, blue. It molded in my basement here in the US, so I don't have it anymore, but it survived so many camps and hikes. Some of the new Swedish companies I don't know much about. But Swedish clothes have a different quality, that is for sure!

Stamp of the Day: Fastest animal in the world

When I wrote the Stamp of the Day post about Pronghorns I didn't know that Peregrine falcons were the fastest animal in the world, but if I just had looked at some other stamps in the same series I might have gotten a hint. So, not only is it the Fastest Bird in the world, but actually the fastest animal period. I think the US Post Office is not really clear about this on their stamps. Since when were falcons not land animals? USPS say the Pronghorn is the fastest land animal on their stamp, but I think falcons are land animals too. Or is there a special category for flying animals that live on land? Aquatic, terrestrial, and 'aero' animals? (There might be bacteria that are moving faster, who knows!? Which category would they belong too?)

So, here it is, the fastest animal in the world: the beautiful and fascinating peregrine falcon, nesting in such diverse places as New York city skyscrapers and remote cliff sides.

Olle wondered how their brains stand the g-forces when they twist and turn at 320 km/h as well as the impact forces when they stop. I have no idea - any suggestions?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Book Autopsies: Cooling Big Boilers

I was snooping around on other blogs when I ran into this amazing thing. Brian Dettmer is making art by cutting into old books, like this example to the left. The headline on top is "Cooling Big Boilers". Now this is creative I think. There are many more examples at this link.

Three-dimensional book sculptures are created, but I don't really understand how they stay stable. Look at some of the books towards the end of the webpage I linked to, and how narrow and intricate this work is.

Pretty amazing!

Quote of the Day

I am "reading" (listening on CD's) Thirteen Moons the new book by Charles Fraizer.

In the story Will, the main character, is speaking with Bear the chief of the Cherokees'. Bear asks Will to translate the Bible for him. Bear then makes this comment:

"In the end he (Bear) said he judged the Bible a sound book. Nevertheless he wondered why white people were not better than they are having had it for so long. He promised just as soon as white people achieved Christianity he would recommend it to his own people."

I wonder too...

By the way the book so far is simply outstanding!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Stamp of the Day: Pronghorn

Last night I dreamed about these American 'antelopes', called Pronghorn. When we got to the border of the Yellowstone National Park the first day (for real, not in the dream), a big pronghorn male had positioned himself right inside president Roosevelt's large stone entrance arch. He was just standing there, slowly moving away from the people photographing him, like he had all the time in the world and not one thing bothered him a bit. I wonder if he was sick or mental, since all other pronghorns we saw the rest of the week were either far away or were running fast, fast, fast, past us. In my dream there were flocks of them on an African-like savanna, grazing under a blue sky and surrounded by tall golden grass.

This is of course not the fastest land animal in the world, but it is the fastest in North America (98 km/h!). Only the cheetah is faster in the world. But aren't there faster birds? Like peregrine falcons? Yes, they can dive at speeds up to 320 km/h.

Pattern or chaos?

These heirloom Indian corn cobs (majs, maize) are patterned not by a designer, but by the turning on and off by certain genes based on random pollination by wind. So a random event leads to a pattern, or does it just look like chaos? I don't think so, even irregular patterns are patterns in my mind. But I think different people see patterns differently, and that there is no right or wrong in pattern vision, just different views and opinions.

Is the Humber bridge making a pattern?

Two more patterns: These fern leaves are making a pattern, at least for my eye.

But can a pattern be made of one thing?

If not - where is really the difference?

2 make a pattern "proof"

Here is a pattern of 2:

This is the kittens inspiration: