This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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A blood-red world

Tatemodern-2Up on the third floor of Tate Modern there is a room with six blood red paintings on its walls. It is guarded by human eye by day and by mechanical eye by night. In the center stands a long bench. Those who take the time to sit down will eventually feel things. The feeling that filled me was the world pressing upon me, and it was not a pretty world. It was an oxblood world.

Mark Rothko painted the nine Seagram murals for a fancy restaurant but they made people feel shut in and trapped, which is not good for business. Who knows if this was the train of his thought or not when he took back the paintings and returned the money. Today six of the paintings hang in Tate Modern in London in a room of their own.

After a while I closed my eyes and to my surprise the same images lingered, as an imprint of fleshy negatives stuck on my retina. I gave up, opened my eyes, and gazed at the paintings again. They had transformed into a window toward a blood-red world where everything was wrong.

Oh, such a relief it was when we finally found our way back to a place where light is white and warm and not red and cold, and where the water of the Thames on this rare day reflected the blue sky. And where one could simply sit down, order a wonderful risotto with a fabulous verdeho wine, and breathe. The world isn’t doomed quite yet.

Tatemodern-1 (London, United Kingdom; October 2014)

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The riddle before the ladies’ room

botanistThe dinner debate of the evening: is the ladies’ room the one with the butterfly on the door, or the snake? Butterflies are beautiful and ladies love them, but the prettiest ones are always male. And Eve of the Bible teamed up with the snake, didn’t she?

It is advisable to retain a certain grade of sharpness when first visiting the necessary room at The Botanist on Sloane Square. Or perhaps gender is encouraged to remain only a rethorical question?

(London, UK; October 2014)

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My kind of candy land

Londonshopping-2We had a kettle; we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven’t had any tea for a week…
The bottom is out of the Universe.

– Rudyard Kipling

Of course we could not spend a week in London without visiting the Twining’s tea shop, Harrod’s tea department, Fortnum & Mason’s tea shelves, and without having afternoon tea at the Dorchester. That would have simply been silly.

Londonshopping-1(Fortnum & Mason, London, UK; October 2014)

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The pink and blue bridge

Battersea-2Is it the gate to an amusement park? No, it is just the Albert Bridge, crossing from Battersea Park to Chelsea. Only the British would find a practical reason to paint a bridge pink, blue, and green and decorate it with thousands of lightbulbs. Apparently this makes it more visible to ships in bad weather. And only the British would keep a bridge that was quickly useless as a toll bridge, ill constructed to hold motor traffic, and generally rotting away only a decade after its grand opening. They fondly named it the Trembling Lady and issued strict orders that all troops must break step when marching across.

And fortunately, only the British would choose to renovate the bridge after its first 100+ difficult years, giving it a new coat of pink, blue, green, and gold, and even replacing the lightbulbs. The Albert Bridge goes on into its second century revamped and fit for a prince.

Battersea-3(London, UK; October 2014)

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Our lives inside soap bubbles

Battersea-1Sometimes it is wonderful to adhere to the cliché and take a walk in the park. On this particular day we took a walk in the Battersea park. Passing Sunday strollers and joggers and a flock of hungry swans, we also touched the lives of these beings, if only gently and for a fraction of a second. Turning my head to watch an elderly couple walk by donned in matching scarves, their existence made a solid connection with me for a moment. I watched them live their lives for two seconds and caught a glimpse of two parallel universes touching mine, with unfathomable depth and complexity.

While we are all made out of the same matter and energy, we also seem like individuals floating by each other caught in transparent soap bubbles. Sometimes we gaze into each others’ bubble for a millisecond, sometimes for decades, but we only truly know the contents of, and outlook from, our own bubble.

And I was left wondering what the content and outlook of a swan’s soap bubble would be like.

Battersea-4 (Battersea Park, London, UK; October 2014)

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Another Sunday, in Chelsea

Chelseasunday-1And then, just like that, it was Sunday and we were strolling the streets of Chelsea. Escaping the throngs of shoppers we slipped into Bluebird, savoring the chance to sit outside just a few days away from November. Among the pumpkins and haystacks we dug into huge heaps of fish and chips, swearing it was going to be the first and last time that week.

And then, just like that, we found ourselves in the old borough town hall and a vintage fashion fair. Oh, there was lace, crinoline, and plumes. Heaps of hats and stacks of ballroom shoes. Dear me, the evening gowns from the turn of the century and flapper dresses from the roaring twenties!

ChelseaSunday-2There were silver hairbrush and mirror sets, pearled purses, and butterflies, both on display and in our bellies. And fashionistas, film stylists, and nostalgia lovers going gaga among sequins and tassels and veil-thin organza. Oh if only that gorgeous opera cape in night blue velvet and silver trimmings could be mine…

ChelseaSunday-3 (Frock Me! Vintage fashion fair in Chelsea, London, UK; October 2014)

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A moment’s repose, or Sunday, 5 pm

sundaychillTwining’s Keemun tea and warm slippers on a Sunday, while browsing a stack of photos from London. The glass-clear notes of Beethoven’s piano concerto ‘The Emperor’ slowly weave out of the speakers, laying themselves above the floor like a blanket of soft sound. Happy Sunday everybody. May you also spend a moment of calm in the company of only yourselves today. towerbridge(Helsinki, Finland; and London, UK; November 2014)