This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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From behind the scenes

IMG_6683Hello you lovely readers,

Thank you so much for continuing to like and follow This Blue Marble. While I prefer to share less about myself and more about our wonderful world, along with the thoughts I have when I see what I end up photographing, I wanted to show you another angle. Instead of talking about the lovely features of Vilnius, I would like to share that the photo above was taken in a freezing hail storm after a long day of meetings and networking, when my feet ached and before we almost missed the flights back home.

Backing up 20 hours when we were whisked over to Vilnius from Stockholm one Thursday night. 10 seconds time to observe the lovely gift box of chocolates on my bed and the lovely book crossing shelf in my room. 2 more seconds to observe there were 2 functioning power plugs for my 4 devices. Defeating the exhaustion in an attempt to see at least one block of the city we ventured down to the city hall square and in to a bar which treated us to hugging couches, tolerable wine, and drunk wrestling Norwegians. Afterwards more work on my presentation, lights out at 1 am, and on again at 7 am.

8.30 am to 3.30 pm was presentations, meetings, lunch networking, and more meetings in two locations. A splendidly set up day by our lovely hostess. No time for anything else except for focusing on the present moment. At 3 pm my head was beginning to get soft. I kept losing my belongings. We called it a day, took photos, and had a refreshing walk and a pleasant conversation with our hostess in the cold, with alternating rain and hail.

And then there were no taxis to take us to the airport. None in all of Vilnius. A ride was wonderfully offered. But all Vilnius was one traffic jam – hence, apparently, no taxis. We almost missed our flights – at least I thought so until mine ended up being delayed.

At the airport in Helsinki a random taxi cab pulled up, the driver got out, grabbed my suitcase, and said “Hello! To Lauttasaari, was it?” As we drove home I wondered whether it is a good thing or a bad thing that I am personally recognized by a handful of the 1,400 taxi drivers in Helsinki.

Lovely readers, this time I chose to tell you about my day instead of just my thoughts, with a pretty photo. Do tell me if you would like more personal content from time to time. And if you read all the way to here and only want to read about Vilnius, here you go.

(Vilnius, Lithuania; April 2015)


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Colors, cabaret, and acorn coffee

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One night a crowd gathered in a church made of peaches and cream. Shuffling through the doorway they sat down in silence, absorbing the rainbow of colors reflecting from the usually oh-so-dead-bleak statuettes. Suddenly there were four musicians on stage and lovely Philip Glass for strings, floating off the stage like swirly strips of silk. Then the colors changed to red and there was a beautiful creature in a pink evening gown and huge glittery silver jewelry, telling animated stories of Schönberg’s cabarets, followed up by the songs he wrote. Adults smiled. Children laughed. And we did not understand a word. Lithuanian is related to sanskrit, you see.

In the afterglow even a cup of woody, burnt acorn surrogate coffee tasted marvelous.

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(Church of St. Catherine, Vilnius, Lithuania: April 2014)


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The marble, the gold, and the cash to fix the façade

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How much does it cost to restore a church? To clear out all the damage done after decades of neglect and use as storage space? To investigate the frescos hidden underneath white paint, to replace marble with just the right kind of marble, to fix statues so they don’t look brand new but do not miss a nose or limbs?

How much does it cost to restore all forty churches of Vilnius to their former, pre-Soviet glory? Who is the kind benefactor with so much wealth to give away? And why is it, beyond the restoration of a few monumental churches, not used to the benefit of the people outside of the beautiful bubble of Vilnius? To those who could not afford lunch in the idyllic, clean old town?

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And yet, if there were no beauty there would be no tourism, and no steady income to develop a country further.  Fighting poverty is hard. According to the World Bank, Lithuania is doing good on international poverty scale, but according to national statistics, almost 20% of the population is at risk for poverty in the future.

So many difficult questions for a sunny spring day. Each country picks its own battles, just like each one of us does. And today is not a day for battle, but a day to live and learn about this pretty city. I may sneak into another gorgeous church just about now.

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(Vilnius, Lithuania; April 2014)


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A castle just like in a child’s mind

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A castle on a grassy, green hill, with a flag waving against a clear blue sky. Just like children imagine castles to be, and how they draw them on paper. Except for today, when the kids play on the green grass by the foot of the castle of their dreams.

The Gediminas tower was once built for war and death and now serves as a playground for school children. The irony of the never-ending ticking of time is sweet today.

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(Gediminas tower, Vilnius, Lithuania; April 2014)


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Two hundred years of terrorism

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Imagine living in a country wedged between two quickly expanding world religions, forced to defend an age-old belief system against new, invading ones. Imagine your neighbors using religion to gain foothold on your land and power over your rulers. Imagine the weapon industry, military as an occupation for the boys, and continuous life in fear required to defend a country for a long period of time. Imagine the numbers of defense forts required for a country geared towards continuous threat of terror. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Now reverse the clock about 800 years and watch history repeat itself.

Once upon a time, Lithuania was an empire stretching all the way from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. In the middle ages it withstood two hundred years of continuous attacks by Teutonic knights. A pagan state had to fight to survive between Byzantine and Western Christianity.

Today’s terrorism troubles feel like nothing when compared to 200 years of crusades into sovereign land “in the name of someone holy”.

After generation upon generation of neverending battle Lithuania realized that the only way to survive was to give up and convert to Catholicism. So much blood shed for the sake of belief can never be called a victory in the name of anything holy.

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(Trakai island castle, Lithuania; April 2014)