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 :)