Monday, December 23, 2013

Dan före dan (The day before The Day)

Today is the day before THE DAY, at least in Sweden.  Swedes don't care much about Santa fitting through the chimney, reindeer sleighs in the sky, and stockings hanging precariously (and fire unsafetedly) at the fireplace.  What Swedes do is very different. 

Santa actually comes to your house on Christmas Eve, knocks on the door, and asks 'Are there any nice children here?'.  And the kids have to answer (and you better say 'yes' or you will be in trouble.  And then he takes out presents out of his big burlap bag, and hands them out to everybody.  After a while he says that he has more houses to visit, so he is just going to leave the bag with presents for all of you, and then he leaves. 

Soon after, Dad/Uncle/Big Brother/Grandpa shows up at the door after getting more firewood/checking on the ham in the basement/trying to find a screwdriver in the barn and all the kids say 'You missed him, he was just here!!!'.  :) 

 With this tradition Santa has had the most curious clothes over the years in our family in Sweden.  He always has a Santa hat and a fake beard, but the rest is up to innovation and whatever is at hand.  I have seen him in fleece jackets, big green wool coats and so on.  One year I was Santa and I had a red Margrete bowl on my head for a while. 

Santa's name in Swedish is JULTOMTEN.  Jul means Christmas, same word as Yule, and tomte are the little gnomes that are helpers around the farm.  Before the tradition of jultomten, it was a goat that came to the house and delivered presents, called JULBOCK.  I am not making this up, it is true, and it was the tradition before Santa became common.  We still put up things in our Christmas tree that looks like goats, made out of straw. There are also lots of little 'tomtar' (gnomes) hanging in our tree, supposedly keeping it safe.  Now when the cats are not inside anymore, we don't have to worry too much about the safety of the tree ornaments.

Swedes also have lots of candlelight, angels, stars, birds, and pigs around for Christmas decorations. We have Christmas trees too of course. 

Here are some Swedish Christmas stamps for you all to get the Swedish Christmas feeling.  The illustrators are Ilon Wikland (above) and Björn Berg (below).  God jul!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sighs for the technological wonders

Someone said that if cars worked like computers, nobody would ever buy a car that randomly crashes, do not always start, have weird unexplained problems, can get viruses and other bad things that live inside it (and I am not talking about mice chewing on things under the hood of the car), or have parts that refuses to work with each other.  But that is what we get with computers.  These days, we are all also supposed to be able to figure it out ourselves, know HTML, command line code, a billion settings and options, and be able to find buttons that are hidden or staring us straight in the face but not associated with any description or text.

I have just spent more than one hour trying to fix why our little icons for 'mail this', 'recommend this', etc., wasn't showing up on our blog. This blog.  It was added by me a few years ago to the template through the 'click this button and you get it on your blog' in the Blogger settings.  But they never showed up.  So now, a few years later, I decided to see if I could fix it.  Some googling, lots of testing with suggested html code in new places, and now finally it works. 

The Blogger Help Forum didn't solve it, I found the solution in a post on another blog that had had the same issue. Such a simple thing, and just imagine how many of us that are trying to solve similar issues in our daily lives, including our daily work. 
"Why can't I import this file?" 
"Where is that command again to fix the white balance on my photo?" 
"Why did Word do THAT?" 
"How do I get rid of that?" 
"Help, I can't sign into gmail!"
"Why do I have to sign in everyday even if I click 'remember me'?"
"Why is Firefox so slow?"
"Why isn't Netflix working (again)?"
 And on and on...   Ever heard anybody complain about their cars like this?  No, me neither.

How in H*LL is anybody that knows nothing about html supposed to be able to fix something like this by themselves?  Why aren't these things foolproof?  If computers could be insured, and cause bodily harm, like cars are and can, then I bet we would have a lot better working computers.  It is pretty amazing how sensitive and breakable this system is, and I am not talking about silly buttons at the bottom of blog posts, but in general. We are pouring our work and private lives into these machines, and they are totally non-dependable.  Sure, they work most of the time.

But if you have a broken car you take it to a mechanic and he/she fixes it.   For computers, having them fixed by an expert would mean 1) at least weekly visits to a computer mechanic, 2) immense costs, and 3) sometimes things can't be fixed because of bad hardware or software.  For a car, you can usually choose not to fix something because it would not be worth the cost, but many times for computer you simply can't fix it, you are simply not given any options. 
"Sorry, you laptop monitor is broken, can't be fixed, better get a new laptop." 
"Sorry, I can't recover your harddrive data". 
And still, we have so much invested in these undependable units - photos, memories, letters, work data (a lot in my case), finances, and so on.

So, gals and guys, here is my advice:

  • Back up your data. 
  • Keep a data backup in a different house or building (or the computing cloud)
  • Realize that everything on your computer can be gone. Anytime. 
  • See the computer as a tool, not as your life.  Your life is what is going on when you eat, breath, walk, see, think... not what is stored on the computer. 
Do I follow this advice?  Yes, partly, but not well enough.  So I need to follow my advice better too. And now, you can all e-mail, Facebook, like, or tweet this post because I fixed the buttons at the bottom. (she says smiling... ).

Blurry Christmas

This morning, while it is snowing outside here in New Jersey. When you come downstairs, you are greeted by this happy tree, before it is overhung with decorations. Just lights and the greenery. Nice!

(Yes, it is meant to be blurry, that is how our eyes work in early mornings)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sacred economics, and what is really worth something?

PP showed us this amazing video tonight, about what economics is about and what it should be about:

 It is very interesting and great, watch it! 

It questions our current society's focus on money, natural resources, lack of sharing and giving...  I want that Gift Economy that he is talking about.  Maybe, just like Paying it forward, we should be Giving it forward more in our lives.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stamp of the Day: Hammarby

Not far from Uppsala, a little to the southeast on the large flat plains of glacial clays deposited just a hudnred thousand to a couple of million years ago, is a farm on a little hill.  It is Hammarby, Carl von Linne (Linnaeus)'s18th century farm, where he lived when he work as a professor of medicine and botany in Uppsala.  In town he had his scientific garden, and out here (within riding or walking distance) he had his farm and wild plants.

There are a couple of buildings at Hammarby, most built of horizontal logs that are painted with the typical red iron oxide paint of Sweden ('falu rödfärg').  This is where he lived with his family, the famous scientist that was convinced that he was put on this Earth to catalogue all living species and put it into some kind of reasonable system. And so he did.  Plants, Animals, Fossils, Rocks... all got a Latin name, a binomial of a genus and species epithet.  Like 'Homo sapiens'.

This Swedish stamp from 50 years ago shows Linnaeus in his garden outside the main building.  If you walk up the creaky and narrow (and extremely worn) stairs to the second floor and then take a right, you end up in his bedroom.  All the walls in there are covered with botanical prints, used as wall paper.  He was surrounded by plants, and even while asleep or in midwinter.  Tropical trees, orchids, fleshy flowers from far-away places were pasted onto the walls with starchy wall paper glue.  I assume there was regular wall paper printed in the mid 1700's, maybe not?  It is a bit strange today to see these antique and extremely valuable prints from the 1700s pasted up on the walls, covering every surface, and now stained with water, insect droppings, and dust.  Some of the prints are colored, maybe by hand. 

Hammarby is a great place to visit, so go there next time you are close to Uppsala.  And then go to the Cathedral inside Uppsala ('Domkyrkan') where you can step (or dance) on Linnaeus' grave.  His gravestone is set in the floor.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Weaving by the Swedish artist Karin Larsson in the beginning of 1900s

I was inspired by a young artist to show you this.
Karin Larsson's The Four Elements, in her weaving loom. Enjoy!

More on Karin Larssons work here, from an exhibition about her.

Stamp of the day: birch wood

Yesterday I was teaching about plant anatomy, about the cells and structures inside plants that make plants work and make them alive.  Wood is an amazing thing, made up from lignified plant cells that become hard, sturdy, and dead and can hold up giant trees through snowstorms and summer rains. Wood is dead xylem, the part of the vascular tissue that transports mostly water up into the top of the plants.  The yearly rings in wood from temperate regions are because the xylem made in spring are made from large diameter cells, lots of water is needed then.  In the summer and fall, then the xylem cells are smaller, and the tissue becomes tighter and darker, and you get the dark band for that year. 

Here are some fantastic photos of plant anatomy, and this Swedish stamp show wood from birch, which you can of course use for firewood. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November thoughts


Solen kikar försiktigt upp ovanför horisontkanten, en skogsridå av guld bländar mig. Soluppgången är långsam och vacker, precis som om solen tvekar att kliva upp. Precis som jag, som gärna ligger kvar under mitt varma täcke om morgonen. Nu kommer nordbornas svåraste tid, det är mörkt och kallt i mitt Norden. Inte kallt med gnistrande snö och rimfrost på träden, utan ett tråkigt kallt, rått och fuktigt väder, strax över nollstrecket på termometern. En lång väntan, på snön, på glänsande isar, på ljusets återkomst, på växter som återigen knoppas. Bland blåsippsbladen vilar knopparna redan och mina narcisser har långa vita rötter i krukorna. Det känns trösterikt när alla klorofyllblad ligger bruna och vissna på marken, att veta att de nya redan är färdiga för start.
     Himlen är svagt upplyst och molnen är belysta underifrån, en ljust blå himmel och mörkt grafitgrå moln, fyllda av fukt. På natten lyser stjärnorna och jag gör min resa i Karlavagnen på väg mot nästa vår.


Translation by LS:


The sun carefully looks over the edge of the horixon, a forest drapery of gold is blinding me.  The sunrise is slow and beautiful, just as if the sun is hesitating to get up.  Like me, who would love to stay under my warm cover in the morning.  Here comes the hardest time for the scandinavians, it is dark and cold in the Nordic area. Not cold with sparkling sno and hoary frost on the trees, but a boring, cold, raw and wet weather, right above the freezing point on the thermometer.  A long wait, for the snow, for the shiny lake ice, for the return of the light, for plants that are in bud.  Below the hepatica leaves are already ready buds and my daffodils have long, white roots in their pots.  It feels promising when all the chlorophyllic leaves are brown and weathered on the ground to know that the new leaves are ready to start. 
    The sky is barely lit and the clouds are colored from beneath, a light blue sky and dark graphite grey clouds, filled with moisture.  During the night the stars shine and I travel with the Big Dipper towards the next spring.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Time passing

New York Central clock at Sollidens pensionat in Stenungsund, Sweden

Welcome to winter and the change of the clocks!  It happened today here in the US (Swedes are ahead of us as usual, they changed their clocks a while ago).  Back to normal Eastern Standard Time for us now, no more Daylight Savings time (which is called Summer Time, 'sommartid', in Swedish).

The amazing hybrid solar eclipse (Nov 3, 2014) we had planned to watch this morning was hidden by a large could bank.  Oh well.  Somewhere behind those clouds were a partially visible sun.  We will have to wait to 2014 for another solar eclipse. There is some photos and info here of this rare event.

And, sad memories and news - it is 50 years since developers in New York City crushed the old, beautiful Penn Station and built a mega-ugly box on top of it.  Penn Station now are horrible cramped tunnels below Madison Square Garden.  Look at the photos of what once was here... At least Grand Central Terminal is still standing in New York, and Penn Stations are left in Baltimore and Philadelphia.  If you wonder about the names - Penn Station comes from the old Pennsylvania Railroad, and Grand Central was the railroad station for the rival New York Central Railroad.  Union Station in Washington, DC, had several railroads, that is why it was called 'Union'.  (PP can correct me if I am wrong :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Seeing America sideways (from a long-distance train)

When you travel by train you never look forward, maybe a little backward, but mostly sideways. Quickly landscapes swish past, except at stations where speeds slow down.


You see the backyard of American lives, not the front meant for eye consumption.  What you see are the alleys, backyards, abandoned lots, weedy places and industrial parks far from the manicured front lawns of highways and city streets.


Bridges and tunnels provide structure and landscape channels - light or dark, over water or through rock.  Both have that sense of danger, non is completely safe, but fascinating and exciting. Better to be back on firm ground though. In the forests and swamps no people are present, their sometimes presence just marked by old, dried-out ATV ruts, a barely holding-together deer stand in a tree, or the remnants of a dock, long since gone. I imagine alligators and beavers in the lakes, but see white egrets and maybe a deer.

Through the backyards and hidden lives of Americans, from swimming-pools so small they are non-swimmable, to room extension after room extension built out back, maybe to fit ever-growing families.

Like an invisible snake  the polished train passes through, nobody, except some young excited kids that not have have learned to ignore, pays attention to the metal Amtrak tech wonder, pushed by electricity down the tracks.  Everybody else doesn't even look up, they go on with their business, be it hanging laundry, carrying groceries, running a red light, yelling at some kids, waiting for the bus with the headphones plugged in, or doing homework behind a dirty window...

Weedy plants are everywhere, covering up the empty spaces people left behind - an old parking lot, railroad sidings, ruins of factories with their hand-painted names that can barely be seen on the old bricks, and neglected yards.  Abundant green life everywhere. They are pretty, but uncontrolled - red leaves color the landscape in sunset colors in the middle of the October day.  Sumac, kudzu, virginia creeper, mugwort and tree-of-heaven... Each plant has a story and the humans have stories about it, all linked to human histories and miseries.

The train on its shiny steel tracks cuts through it all, relentless, just passing by on to distant places, different lives. Behind it are kids starting, pointing, and laughing, and maybe imagining jumping on, one day.

(Written after taking the train today from Trenton to Washington, DC, and passing through Wilmington, Delaware, and Baltimore, Maryland, and over Delaware River and Susquehanna River. All photos are taken from the train, many at full speed, so they are of course blurry, and therefore accurate.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

A year later... superstorm Sandy remembered

2012 was a bad storm year, really bad, and this year we have been incredibly lucky.

Sweden (and Britain) is right now being hit by hurricane Simone, that is wreaking havoc a year later after Sandy, exactly.  We are used to storms now, we have two generators, food  (lots), a gas stove, buckets,  backup sump pumps, extra gasoline for the generators, flashlights, emergency radio, and we know our neighbors...  I don't think most people in Sweden are as prepared because the weather is nicer there, usually.  Our power has probably gone out at least 10 times this year already... rotten infrastructure, indeed. Also a lot of rotten trees.

I remember it all how it was a year ago, very vividly, hearing the noises of the storm that hit our house around midnight and hearing booms and cracks in the dark, power going out, and then trying to sleep for a bit, and waking up in the morning to a changed world.  Here are some photos from back then.  I hope you weather the storm better in Sweden tonight.

After hurricane Sandy, New Jersey
Yep, that is a power pole with a transformer on it.

After hurricane Sandy, New Jersey
Christmas fell over.

There used to be a forest here, after hurricane Sandy
There used to be a very dark pine forest here.

nor'easther Athena
And then, on November 8, still without neighborhood electric power, we got this. Nice! Not. (I love snow, just not right then.)

If you want to revisit our blog posts on hurricane Sandy, just look under keyword hurricane, or search for 'Sandy' in the search box.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunsets around the world

Tonight, while driving to pick up LA, there was a golden-red sunset in the west.  One of those that we described in Swedish as 'the sky is on fire" (himmelen står i brand). It made me think of other amazing sunsets I have seen around the world, and how amazing it is that a fireball far away affects our colors and emotions so much.  So, here is a trip around the world in sunsets:

 Sunset and thunder in Brazil
Brazil, near Itaiaia National Park, between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, sunset on thunderclouds in the rainforest.

sunset over Palo Verde marshlands
Costa Rica, over Palo Verde marshlands in early spring.

sunset over Klarabergskanalen
Sunset over Stockholm in September, Sweden (of course)

Chicago sunset 2
Chicago sunset, in Illinois, USA, out on Lake Michigan. A hot day in August.

November sunset at the Sourland Mountain
Sourland Mountains, New Jersey, USA, with oaks and ash trees in the foreground.  Home. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On the cinema

The life of Monica Zetterlund is presented on the cinema. She was a fantastic jazz singer and her music is loved by many. The other interesting thing here is the cinema "Bio Kontrast". In this case (our town) the city hall also have a concert hall, which is used for movies. When I grew up, I could see, for example, French and Russian films on Bio Kontrast, in a small cinema in the library basement in my old home town. These movies were not the mainstream movies, but a bit peculiar. Like Koyaanisqatsi and Pica Pica about magpies, not a word spoken).

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stamp of the day: Insects and spiders

American insect and other invertebrate fauna is colorful, diverse, and fascinating.  Just here on our place in New Jersey, we have 10+ cm long praying mantises, walking sticks, migrating giant dragonflies and monarch butterflies, large wasp-colored garden spiders, scorpion flies, and a myriad other arthropods.  It is now October, and most of them are gone, but we still here katydids and cicadas in the trees at night.  When there is a warm day, the pesty and invasive brown marmorated stink bugs show up and try to get into our house to hibernate.  We don't see that many Asian lady beetles anymore, they seem to have been reduced in numbers, after their giant invasion a few years ago. There were some years we had to suck them up with vacuum cleaners from the ceiling corners in our living room.  But most insects are not invasive and over-abundant, but form an important piece of the ecosystem puzzle.  Enjoy!
{Sheet of stamps from United States}

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall colors

I love the red hues that our sumac plants create along highways, fences and forest edges this time of the year. Here is a photo from today's rainy morning.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Old cars by SAAB

When we were small, we had a car exactly like this one. It is funny how the mind works, suddenly I remember details like the chromed list, the window scraper on the frontlights that moved side to side, the shape of the door handles. LS, what is your memory?

Both these cars are standing in a backyard not far from my house.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stamp of the Day: jorduggla (short-eared owl)

The short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) occurs nearly everywhere in the world, except Australia and Antarctica.  I bet it might be more widespread than the invasive European house sparrow...  But this owl has spread naturally, and now flights silently in the night hunting for mice and other small rodents. This Swedish stamp from 2009 shows it in flight, maybe during migration in the fall or spring.  The Swedish name means 'soil owl', because this bird has its nest on the ground, not in a tree or on a cliff.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Top of the Rock in New York City

Empire State Building

Manhattan used to have three high places you could visit - World Trade Center (gone since 11 Sept 2001), Empire State Building (the classic), and then Rockefeller Center, built in the 1930s.  Of these, I have visited World Trade Center and Empire State Building with visiting friends and family years ago, but I never went up in Rockefeller Center until two days ago.  What a treat!  This is where you should be :)

For the record, I am afraid of heights, but Rockefeller Center was no problem.  It didn't move in the wind like World Trade Center did, and it didn't feel claustrophobic and tight like Empire State Building.  We had a calm, clear September day and could see far, far away into New Jersey, New York State ('the Empire State'), Long Island, and Connecticut.  Empire State Building and the new World Trade Center tower are still higher, but the views from this sky scraper is better, I think.  Green Central Park is to the north, Hudson River and the rocky ledge of the Palisades to the west, then southern Manhattan and Statue of Liberty to the south, and Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island to the east.  Fantastic views!

The architecture and design of the building is also classic and wonderful with black floors and shiny brass designs.  Like late Art Deco (PP can fill us in on this, I am sure).  The uppermost floor at level 70 is the roof (called Top of the Rock, of course), and you step out from the elevator straight onto the roof, straight into the sky, but on a big platform... without tall glass round.  Still it felt safe!  The lack of giant hoards of tourists made it nice and pleasant too, plenty of space to look around and see and experience.  Below us, on the other 69 floors are offices, the famous Rainbow Room restaurant (to be reopened next year), and NBC's TV studios.

So, how did it really look like?  Like this! (more photos here)

looking down

central park

upper west side

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Do you Doodle?

Another day and a new meeting... Many results in doodle drawings such as this. Do you doodle? And is it rude to doodle in a meeting or not?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Green, brown, yellow and purple...

For the first time in my adult life I have tried to dye something, and it came out great!

 I have memories of dyeing a cotton scarf at a camp when I was maybe 12. The plant we used as dye was birch branches and aspen leaves. The people that used aspen got these really nice yellow scarves. We that were stuck with the birch got dirty light-green to beige scarves that looked old and worn... It was a major disappointment, especially since I had asked for permission to use the aspen, and the camp leaders said - no, we will split all groups in two parts, and you can't be in the other group. Why not? No idea. Probably some kind of semi-I-will-show-the-kids-I-have-the-power scheme.

Anyway, since then I have not dyed anything with natural colors that I can remember, and I am not counting stains from tomato sauce, blueberry jam, wine, or coffee on my shirts. In early summer I bought some undyed white silk scarves, white cotton yarn, and cleaned wool rowing (basically unspun naturally white wool). We got some books, and read and learned. The materials have to be pretreated with alum, a chemical, so the dye takes better, so I did that.

 Now, what to use as dye? I knew I wanted to make different colors, and base it on all natural, things I had at home.
RED ONION: Natural dyes on silk, cotton and wool
The first batch was red onion skins. Who knew that red onion can give green colors!? Surprise! The colors showed in the book didn't really match what I got, and that is probably due to the chemistry of our well water. I also dyed some filter paper in this batch.
 COFFEE - Natural dyes on silk, cotton and wool
Second batch, coffee... Old coffee grains, cooked up again, filtered off, and then used as a dye bath. I think my coffee was pretty weak, so it became a light brown. TURMERIC: Natural dyes on silk, cotton and wool
Third batch, yipeee, Turmeric! From the spice cabinet. What a color! Bright orange!!! Like, like, I don't know what. A living, deep orange. BLUEBERRY - Natural dyes on silk, cotton and wool
Final fourth batch was a little test. Sometimes we have fresh blueberries from the store that go bad (=mold) in the fridge, so I had saved up a bag of them in our freezer. I cooked the berries down, filtered them, and then used the blueberry juice as a dye bath for 4 days. I had put the textiles and the dye liquid into an old orange juice bottle. Unfortunately I screwed on the top tight and left it out in the sun - after 4 days the bottle was ready to explode. Fermentation! :) Nothing got destroyed, and the colors of light purples are gorgeous.

The dyed wool and cotton yarn is now in Baltimore in AREA's artsy hands, to be used in some creative work. I can't wait to see what she will do with it.

What I learned?

  • Always treat your fibers with mordant, then the colors will be better. 
  • Don't hang the finished textiles for too long in the sun or they will become sunbleached. 
  • Do not make fermented blueberry juice. 
  • Big-mouthed orange juice plastic bottles are great for long-term dyeing.  No risk that an animal will drink it and you can shake it a lot to distribute the liquid well. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Another week

It is that time of the year when weeks flush past in quick succession, when days get relentlessly shorter, and the daytime temperature cannot make up its mind.  We had a few days with over 95 degrees F here this week, that is far above 30 degrees Celsius.  That is not what I want out of September. But the temperature is dropping steadily right now....

The first red Virginia creeper leaves have shown up, both in our garden and on my favorite art/nature photography blog, STILL (photo courtesy of Mary Jo Hoffman):

'Hello autumn', (c) Mary Jo Hoffman,

On the porch, the hummingbirds no longer visit their feeder, and the praying mantis seems to have forgotten that colder climates are on the way.  All students are back in classes, and all teachers back teaching... just like every year.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Stamps of the Day: Classic cars ('Bilar')

A First-Day-Cover (FDC) from the Swedish Postal Service in 1997, featuring stamps with classic car brands.  Here you have SAAB (of course, with Carlsson's Monte Carlo rally car), an E-type Jaguar in classic green, Chevrolet's Bel-Air, a very French Citroen, a Volvo Duett - 'the car that is two', and finally Porsche...  Nice old shapes... Enjoy!

This morning I read in the local newspaper that someone had stolen a $80,000 Porsche in our town.  It was parked in a driveway and the owner was home, but someone drove off with it, without the owner noticing anything...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Insects and critters in New Jersey - a photo essay from this summer

False Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa juncta)
A dead False Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa juncta) was waiting for me, dead, outside the door to my office building one day. It is similar to the infamous Colorado potato beetle, but its stripes are brown, black and white.

galls on grape leaf (Vitis)
Some amazing galls by some unknown insect on grape leaves in our garden.  Each yellow 'bottle' was about 1 cm long.

sunflower and fly
This is a fly (2 wings), not a bee (4 wings), sunning itself in the sunflower.

caterpillar of Amorpha juglandis (Walnut Sphinx)
LA found a small, but distinctive, larvae of a walnut sphinx (Amorpha juglandis).  Spinxes are big moths that fly at night. This was the first photo from New Jersey in the, a great online photo guide!

We also saw two mosquitoes in the last week that looked like the invasive Asian tiger mosquito.  I am less happy about that. They were tiny, flew during daytime, and have black and white-striped bodies and legs. They can spread diseases, that is their problem (and ours).

I love all the life in our garden, even if it sometimes bites and stings. This morning the fog had made all the spider webs visible, like white cotton thread.  Giant praying mantis are hanging out in the butterfly bush, aiming for the big swallowtail butterflies.  In the garden, too many marmorated stinkbugs are creating problems... it is always something.

More insect photos are coming soon! 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Happy birthday, EH!

Another year, another summer, the life cycle goes on! :)
Congratulations on your birthday with this bouquet of flowers!

bridesmaid bouquet

Friday, August 30, 2013

Stamp of the day: Compass

Sometimes you get a feeling of being lost, in a country, in the woods, in society.... when you do it is good to have a compass, whether it is a real one or an inner one. Compasses stands for direction, continuity and safety, at least for me. In these days, when GPS has taken over the world´s all traffic direction, lighthouses are endangered and people don´t look at maps anymore.

I would not part from my compass (or map), and keep it with me when traveling. Sure, I use my GPS, but electronic devices can malfunction. My compass does not, even though a magnet could affect it and set you on a wrong course (NEVER put your radio under the deck of the kayak, and the compass on top.....).
This is a new stamp from the Swedish Post Office.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Emigrants from Sweden

The summer has turned over and autumn is closing in on us again here in the Northern hemisphere. Daylight is still 14 hours and 30 minutes, when the winter is here we´ll have the shortest days with 6 hours and 7 minutes. The migrating birds have started to group together already.

But, no need to ponder on that now. On the other topic now, Emigrants from Sweden to America, as it was in the 19th century. The book series about a Swedish group of people who were leaving a poor life in the rural Småland, written by the Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg, has been reprinted. What´s interesting are the book covers, embroidered by a Swedish needleworker, Karin Holmberg.

I think they are beautiful, and maybe very Swedish. LS, what do you think?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

When the birds are done...

...then the morning glories take over.

From my garden which is full of weedy morning glories in all kinds of colors. Lovely.

Moon over Hopewell

moon over Hopewell, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.

Just a photo from New Jersey, taken last week. A moon and a globe and a spire...