This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Alice in Wonderland

lundIt is as if that tiny door is right there, at the end of the hallway. And when I walk through it everything will be upside down, the wrong size, and inside out. And I will end up attempting to play croquet with a flamingo. But first I need to find the bottle that says “drink me”. Perhaps just up those gorgeous stairs?

(The Grand hotel, Lund, Sweden; November 2017)


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Not stereotypes

tedx“I was a normal teenager until 9/11. After that I had to become an expert in terrorism, the Middle East, and ‘being oppressed'”, said Sara Salmani.

In the turbulences of our world, we often miss noticing how the hearts and minds of children are affected by the crises created by adults. Questions are asked, perhaps; stereotypes formed, for sure. And there is no pill for growing up overnight.

(TEDx Turku, Turku, Finland; November 2017)


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Interlude: soft summer

pcaLovely ones, on to quite a different topic for once: color. It is an endless source of inspiration for me, even if my home has exactly three colors: some cocoa brown, mostly shades of gray, and a touch of turquoise. And now, finally, after decades of thinking about it, I had my own colors analyzed. I always thought of myself as a True Summer, but could not quite make mint green or light blue gray work. Now I know why. My coloring is one of those tricky neutrals, on a slider from the coolest colors slightly towards warmer, but still more cool than warm.

Soft summer is probably the most boring, flat, mousy color scheme out of them all. There is no white, only a light neutral like a sheet caught in the smoke of a campfire. There are no pastels, or colors with white added to them; instead all the light colors are diluted with a shade of gray.

But soft summer is also elegant, understated, polished. Like a bluebell on a slightly hazy dewy meadow. My gray cat’s paw, with lavender pads. Dusty old dried roses. There is depth to soft summer: aubergine, Douglas fir needle green, a deep slightly muted burgundy. ┬áThere is no real contrast: the differing but same-tone colors bring the picture to life. Like if you reduced a photograph of a hazy summer night meadow to black-and-white: you cannot tell what is what, and where the flowers are. But add color and all makes sense.

Now I need to get my head into a slightly more neutral, dusky, calm space. With a sense of revelation I have recycled a couple of garments I had always loved but which never seemed quite right. Mostly because they were either too cool or too light. And I cannot wait for spring to go hunting for seafoam, sage, and pistachio greens.

(Helsinki, Finland; November 2017)


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Lux Aeterna

luxeterna

O lux beatissima,
Reple cordis intima
Tuorum fidelium.
Sine tuo numine
Nihil est in homnie,
Nihil est innoxium.

Nothing is more stately than a choral piece in Latin, sung by candlelight. And Lux Aeterna is all about light. The words themselves mean eternal light. Perhaps in a bout of late-night inspiration, composer Morten Lauridsen searched through sacred Christian texts to find those infused with light, and piled them all after each other to a lovely, nearly half-hour choral piece.

Perhaps for some it is a reminder of a chance for salvation. Perhaps for others it is a reminder of undying, unconditional love. For me it is perhaps the most beautiful blend of words and music ever created. Which ever the reason for each one of us, the church was full tonight.

(Helsinki, Finland; November 2017)


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Uncommon proposal

lithuania-1“MARRY ME SHEENA” exclaims a huge billboard on the side of the road between Vilnius and Kaunas. No, we are not somewhere in the South States of the USA. We are in Lithuania. Surely Sheena and her beau cannot have been Baltic? Did she see the sign? Did she respond Yes?

A quick search on the internet reveals that neither one is a Southerner. Sheena, it turns out, is a winner of Malaysia’s Next Top Model. Her beau is Lithuanian – and an artist who painted some famous murals in Penang, Malaysia. But most importantly, she said Yes.

Perhaps the happy couple will get married in Lithuania, where late September flower glory competes with tropical Southeast Asia?lithuania-2(Lithuania; September 2017)


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Hasa diga eebowai

musicalThe Book of Mormon made me laugh so I shed tears. Yes, it is insulting, intelligent, and vulgar. My colleague in London told me she saw it when it was new, and one-quarter of the audience walked out during intermission and never returned to their seats. But what most people miss (perhaps?) is the sweetness in the second half: how people try so very much their best to live in a harsh world seemingly filled with limitations. The deep lessons in the ending: how another’s culture is always understood through the filter our own culture, programmed in our minds when we grew up. How, in the end, the characters on stage were all trying their very best to help each other live as good lives as possible, all in their own ways.

It seems that most viewers remember the phrase “hasa diga eebowai”. “F*ck you God”. This is also the reason many people leave the musical in the middle of the show. But what many do not seem to remember is that it was used as an expression of survival and strength in a world where individuals are targeted with numerous inexplicable sufferings: AIDS, poverty, natural disaster. “If you don’t like what we say, try living here a couple days. Watch all your friends and family die; hasa diga eebowai!”.

There is strength in words. And sometimes those words are terrible. Because the world is sometimes terrible.

(London, United Kingdom; September 2017)