Dec 30, 2018

It's been 20 years now

It was between Christmas and New Years 1998 that I separated. The yellow dream kitchen was just finished. I knew it would be hard. I had no idea.

Correcting myself, I knew it would be hard initially. And for some time. But I pictured myself starting LIVING eventually. A different life. Happier. More me. A me I could sense deep inside me waiting to be let out. Soul. Body. I was so sure of it. Positive.

But completely wrong.

Nothing went my way. Not in any sense. I was waiting for the turning point. Expecting it. Looking for it. Around every corner. That’s what they say, right? And that’s the story in every story. After rain comes sun. The turning point will come. When everything will be elucidated. The hardships explained. Making sense. Your ship comes in, someone offers you a hand to get onboard, you take it and you sail away in a good wind.

When I made that move during the holidays 1998 I felt like I was standing on a diving board. The 10 meter one. I didn’t have a choice any more. I had to jump. Hoping there was water in-under.

It wasn’t. I landed on the hard grey concrete and broke every bone in my body.

They don’t do that in the stories, do they? Or is it that those stories never get told. They are too painful. And too shameful.

I became a hermit. Was for the longest time. Shying away from people. Avoiding questions. Eye contact. Until I got cancer and had to start asking for help. 

It was at Christmas time. As well. I’ve had very many dramatic Holidays. For a lot of years my anxiety started building up in November. What will happen this year? Which catastrophe is lurking in the weeks ahead? The colour red made me feel sick. I couldn’t listen to Christmas music. Decorations and tree for as short time as possible.

This year something is different though. I think it started already last year. It’s not that my ship has sailed in, finally. Nothing like that. 

They say time heals. I don’t think that’s entirely true. The place where grief is located in our brains doesn’t have a time perspective.

The expression “time heals” often includes a ship sailing in. A positive turning point facilitating healing. The winds changing in favour for you.

If you don’t get that kind of fortunate help from life circumstances, work is what’s needed. Therapeutic work. Which, of course, always is a good idea. I’ve worked a lot with most of my issues over the years. But something was missing. And I knew what.

I needed to write the story of me and my long time life partner. I needed to write our saga.

Late summer and fall 2016 I was sitting in my sun chair at my west wall. Listening to a piece of music written by a talented young man that I know. I had been singing that wordless music already, and I knew from the start I wanted to write lyrics for it.

In the late sun I struggled with finding the right words. Catching the images. The feeling of them. The narrative.

It was hard work. Painful. Difficult. But there was also the lightness. The smiles.The good days. After many weeks I had written our story in all it’s complexity. From the beautiful beginning to the sad end. It was the closure I needed. Not until then, the story was complete. 

During the Holidays the same year I realized a different story project. For many years I had been dreaming about writing Swedish lyrics to the hauntingly beautiful Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Now. An impossible task. To lovely to touch.

But I found a way in. It was when I knew I needed to write that lyrics to myself. And maybe others who can’t dream of some day everyone being together again. A song as comfort and support. A song offering a shy light among the lingering shadows from before.

Formulating the saga of me and my childhood love helped time heal, finally. And sending myself comforting light and warmth disarmed the Holiday traumas. 

At last I am at ease with Christmas. It’s taken me twenty years, and that’s sad of course and even shameful. But I am grateful and happy that I am finally there now.

Dec 23, 2018

Merry Christmas from a winter wonderland at the end of the road!

To be filling my lungs, lifting the tones of Christmas up under the church vaults, that’s food for the soul and stars for heaven!

One really fine thing with being a choral singer is the fact that Christmas doesn’t come as a surprise. Like, oh, is it here, it’s too soon, I can’t find my Christmas spirit! No, a choral singer starts feeling the spirit already mid fall when we begin rehearsing for the Christmas concerts, looking at well known favourites as well as having a first glance at new material.

The name of my choir is Kammarkören Sångkraft / Sångkraft Chamber Choir. I’ve been a member for 29 years, split over two periods of time. Choral and vocal group singing has been and is an important part of my life.

Umeå is known as The City of Birches, the same way as Seattle goes by the name The Emerald City. That’s why Kammarkören Sångkraft’s Christmas concert is called Christmas in The City of Birches.

We usually give the show at three occasions, and this year in three different churches. Thus, this week turned out a Christmas tour in Umeå! Three concerts in just a couple of days is a lot to take for my body. As I can’t stand up for more than a little while I am sitting on a barstool while singing. Still, it’s difficult. 

Therefor, I am so happy and grateful that I could do it. All three of them! My voice wasn’t letting me down either which is always nice. Landing on my couch last night after the final concert I was filled with joy and contentment, the way you feel only after a well done job. Surrounded by my US-inspired densely dressed Christmas tree from my woods, as well as the more minimalistic Swedish white stars in my windows. And embedded in the most perfect snow landscape you can ever imagine.

It’s been snowing most every day this last week. Feather-light snowflakes slowly falling from the reservoir above us serving us the exact amount of white fluff we need and can handle. It’s a crisp -14°C/6,8°F outside tonight and the full moon lights the landscape up as the big spotlight it is.

My need for carolling is satisfied, the outside setting is perfect and tomorrow my house will be filled with me and my sister’s families. The conditions for a successful Christmas Eve seem optimal, and so I am wishing all of you out there just the Christmas you need as well! 

Dec 16, 2018

And at the sight of it, my father is doing his little dance from above

We are entering the week leading up to Christmas. Ideally it would be a peaceful week. But four months after the election Sweden still doesn’t have a government and nobody knows how to get there. Brexit and Great Britain is in equal limbo. France is on fire in protests compared to 1968. And of course, in the US the White House Circus is spinning as usual.

But here at the end of the road the world is white and quiet. Sören, who takes care of my fields, drives his green tractor up the field road for feeding the wild life which hide in the forest on Dry Mountain. The trees are covered with frost, it’s cold and perfectly still.

In the mornings my front yard is perforated with traces of deer. How many visited during the night? At least four, maybe even seven! Sometimes I see them up the field on their way to Sören’s food hide away in the grove right behind the flat rock my mother used to call the tiny mountain, it was her playground. A couple of weeks ago two of them crossed over my road right infront of me at my next door neighbour Melker’s. 

The morning after Sorella’s funeral four beautiful deer gracefully jumped over her  grave under the cherry tree, as paying her their respect. And one afternoon two stately red deer strolled over the fields in the dusk. Trouble 1 had been driving me back home and we caught them in the shady light. Hearing their hooves making their steps in the crisp snow crust. It’s a bit magical.

Those of you who have been following me know I am in love (or possibly obsessed) with dressing my place here at the end of the road with lights. If I didn’t it would be pitch black here. And although that would make room for the Milky Way that darkness consumes me. So, I chase it away with spotlights and light strings. I make my place visible in the dark. I decorate it, making it an outside room.

Now, there is a fine line between tasteful and tacky. And I might just have passed it…

For years I have had this ridiculous vague fantasy about placing an illuminated deer somewhere in my surroundings. You know one of those animals shining with a frosty cold white light. Expensive, but going for half prize at the after Christmas sale. And last year I went for it… A red deer, but the size of a deer.

The thing is, when I was a little girl, my father used to put together beautiful snow landscapes for me and my sister do admire and adore. Wooden cottages and mirrors as frozen lakes in white cotton snow. Deer at the lake, a fox hiding behind the cottage, even a bear at the edge of the forest. The landscape was placed at the top of a drawer and my sister and I could sit there for hours, fantasising, moving the animals around.

Last Christmas it struck me: I am living in one of those landscapes! Snow, cottages, forest, animals! The only thing missing is a lake, I can’t do much about that unfortunately. Anyway, that’s when I realised I could allow myself a luminous deer!

It’s been siting at the back of the coach house since the sale, red tag still around the neck. I had an idea for the location in my full-size snow landscape. Deer are shy, so it might be a good idea to place it a bit aways. 

At the edge of the forest to the south there is an outhouse. My father built it when he tore down the barn, where the original homestead outhouse was located. It carries the signs of dad. It’s a sweet little house. 

And now an illuminated deer is peaking out from the dark of the back left corner of it. I can see my dad smiling from above. I can hear his laughter doing his little dance of joy at the sight of a full size frosty deer in my full size snow landscape. 

Dec 9, 2018

Dark and light on the Nobel Day - Jean-Claude Arnault convicted

- See you in Stockholm!

The classic sentence tossed between successful scientists all over the world hoping to one day achieve the most attractive of prizes. I wonder if it’s a say between authors too? 

Tomorrow is the Nobel Day. December 10. The day for awarding the most accomplished of those scientists. They will see each other in Stockholm. However, no author will take the stage in 2018.

The reason is a man who couldn’t keep his dick in his pants and his hands off women. His behaviour made The Swedish Academy shatter, implode and collapse. One of the finest (we thought) institutions in the world lay flat in pieces and was denied the assignment to appoint the Nobel Prize in Literature 2018. This is all a disgrace. 

The start of the fall of The Swedish Academy, was 18 women (as a part of Metoo), accusing a man in close connection to the Academy of sexual assault and rape. The name of this man is Jean-Claude Arnault, married to one of the Academy members.

I have been following the tragic, dramatic, dirty and historic events of this filthy story and here is more to reed.

Out of all the accusations towards Jean-Claude Arnault - events which had been going on for decades - two held all the way up to court. The long timespan has been a negative factor for the victims. Arnault denied all allegations, but on October 1 he was convicted in the District Court of rape in one case. For that, he was sentenced to two years in prison. The verdict fell the same day as the Nobel Prize in Literature should have been announced. A coincident, nevertheless symbolic. 

The prosecutor pushed the second case to the Court of Appeal. Arnault has been held in custody since the first verdict. And on December 3 he was convicted on rape in the second case as well. For those two rapes he will spend 2,5 years in prison.

The Swedish Academy is undergoing some process of renovating itself. But this is a building which needs to be demolished. Although Arnault now is a convicted felon who will do time, there are still pals within the Academy who have his back, meaning it’s all gossip. 

Tomorrow it’s December 10, the Nobel Day. Stockholm will be star spangled. Extraordinary minds. Extraordinary dresses. Extraordinary festivities. There will be a dark shadow clouding that starry sky though. The loss of the Literature Prize. And the reason for it. 

But there will also be light. 18 women told there stories a little more than a year ago. And there are probably many more narratives which have not been heard. Two of all those stories have now gone through the Swedish juridical system. There is no doubt, Jean-Claude Arnault is a serial sex offender. And every woman he has laid his hands on can stand tall. Because the verdict tells the story. Just in time for the Nobel Day.

Dec 2, 2018

A change of perspective

When you are spending most of your time on the couch, that couch might be a bit beaten up. You eat in it, you write in it, you drink in it, you watch TV in it, you have your cold in it, you cuddle with your cat in it, you live your life in it. No wonder.

1,5 years ago I had worn out the mattress cover. No wonder. An upholsterer took on the job to sew me a new one, and I’m not quite sure why but it kind of didn't happen. So for a very long time now I’ve had a bed sheet wrapped around the mattress. In the wait for the new cover. Which could happen any day.

The sheet lived it’s own life on my mattress with me on top. Often a wrinkly hunch inunder my right shoulder. A loose piece of fabric floating around in constant need of adjustment.

I don’t like it when things are out of place. And I really do hate temporary solutions. The in betweens. Especially when transforming into a constant. So, 1,5 years.

This week though, it happened. The upholsterer was ready to do his job. And I was out of mattress for two days. I put some replacement on the base of the couch but it didn't work at all and was bad for my back.

That’s why I suddenly found myself sitting in my sofa chair.

Sitting is usually hard for me, but at this point the only place to lie down was worse. So I came up with a way of doing it. Legs and feet on the ottoman. And found it really interesting.

First. It’s a big difference between lying and sitting, even though in a cozy sofa chair. You feel stronger. More upright. Of corse. More normal.

Secondly. Spending some hours at a different place in the room gives you a different perspective.

For seven years now I’ve been lying on the couch in my upstairs great room. I know every angle of the room looking at it from the east corner of my day bed. The sofa chair on the opposite side of the coffee table is mostly empty. Sometimes there might be laundry waiting to be folded. And occasionally someone is sitting there. A visitor, or one of my home care people. But the sofa chair is not a place inhabited by me. Has never been, actually.

Sitting in the sofa chair that first evening I felt like a guest in my home. I looked over at the couch. All the pillows for my support. The walker - which in Sweden has four wheels and is called a rollator, I can never understand how old and disabled people are helped by a walker which you have to lift to move forward! The eaten dinner tray on the table. The pile of news papers and magazines. The throw. My calendar. The chargers for the different technical devises. I am looking at my life over there. 

I am taking a good look at it. And sitting upright makes me mentally able to take a step back from it. I am liking being in this new place. Wanting to do it again. Which I did the second evening. Liking it as much.

On Wednesday I got the mattress back! Upholstered. Looking good. Feeling good. Clean, in one piece, solid, nothing even remotely temporary about it. Everything about it was right! I love it, and I love lying down on it.  And I can finally cross it out from my eternal list of big and small things to attend to and fix, how wonderful!

I also love my new perspective from the sofa chair. I am actually sitting there writing this posting and it feels really good. I want to spend more time here, when I can. Three feet away from my life on the couch. I feel like I am on a vitalising trip.

Nov 25, 2018

Sorella in memoriam June 24 2007 - November 16 2018 / In the aftermath

- It’s so easy. Like Sorella herself, everything about her was easy. Trouble 2 said.

I am finding that what’s the most difficult is the transitions. Getting up from the couch. Moving between the rooms. Especially the change of floors. Coming down in to the mudroom. Opening the front door. And she isn’t there.

It’s been a week now. I see her in the corner of my eye when passing her favourite spots. I here her at my every move.

As Sorella became more of a dog she always heard my moves and reacted on it. Getting up from the couch she got up too, wherever she was. Walking down the stairs she followed me. And if already downstairs she met me in the mudroom. 

As long as I am on my couch working on something, I am quite okay. But moving and the house is yet still, that’s painful. The absence of her gentle steps.

Sorella was such a gentle soul. Her body little even with that long and fluffy fur of hers. Her approaches to people were shy. Her love and affection was subtle. Her territory was small, calling for her she was never far away, the front yard and the nearby fields her queendom. And she backed out of every fight with fellow neighbour cats crying for my help. But boy, what a hunter she was!

It was on Tuesday that Trouble & Trouble and I buried Sorella. We picked one of her favourite spots. On the brink of the ditch separating the front yard from the fields to the west. When the old mountain ashes were still there she used to sit in them getting the perfect overview of her grounds. Later, a bit desperate, on the stumps of them.

Now mountain ashes replaced by the young cherry trees, she always could tell when I was watering them. Wherever she was, her ears found the sound of running water and came drinking from out of the craters around the trees. The most appreciated was the one next to the baker’s cottage. It’s also the most beautiful of the three trees.

That’s the place we chose for Sorella’s grave.

Now, digging in the ground at my place here at the end of the road is tough business. Almost impossible. Stone, stone, stone. Wherever you put a sharp pointed iron bar to the ground it says “klonk”. My poor sons have never experienced putting a shovel in the ground, the soil giving way for it. Until this Tuesday afternoon. They kind of went all in, just kept on digging until I stopped them: i think it’s deep enough now. Yeah, but it’s just so easy!

- It’s so easy. Like Sorella herself, everything about her was easy. Trouble 2 said.

The shovels dug a perfect shape for Sorella’s coffin. Yes, I don’t call it a box anymore since Cathrine had wrapped it in beautiful white wallpaper. We covered the coffin with the clump of grass we first took out. It’s looking good. Perfect even.

I sang my favourite evening hymn to her again. It didn’t go that well. But I told her I would sing to her all summer when watering her tree. 

Afterwords we all went inside. We lit a fire in my yellow kitchen. The candles at the table. And had a funeral fika. We talked about how bad we (people in general) are at taking care of death. How we are shying away from it, and studies show we are even doing it more and more. 

Funerals aren’t an efficient contribution to society. Coffins are getting more rare which is not helping the grieving process. Memorial parks are often beautiful and soothing but your loved ones are thin air and hard to grasp. 

To take half a day off from work for saying goodbye to someone close should be a natural priority. To face the body shaped coffin is painful but that’s where we need to be. To design a tomb stone for the past and the future is hard work but it is an important one. And to take care of it is an act of love and respect. 

I told Trouble & Trouble those hours with the passed away Sorella in my arms right after her death, that’s what I would have needed with my father. To be with the body who carried his soul through my life. The body I knew so well. Now empty and still. Quite. To stay with his death. To not be moderate and sensible and well-behaved. But to feel his death on my skin. Until I could let go.

The first two weeks of November was all Seattle weather here at the 64th latitude. Hazy, foggy, humid, rainy. Dark. Horrible. The day Sorella passed away the sun came out. And it has stayed that way. It sets early of course. Today 1.13PM behind Dry Mountain. But the mornings are clear and crisp. Frost on our grounds. When taking my brief morning stroll I am greeting Sorella. As I do locking my door for the night. I feel at ease. Because I know where she is. On her favourite spot. And we are still here together. 

Nov 18, 2018

Sorella in memoriam. June 24, 2007 - November 16, 2018

Waking up the first morning of a new reality. That.

Today is my second day. I lost her on Friday. My Sorella. Sorellina. Principessa. My best friend. A brushy grey little ball of fur on white paws and a tail like a waiving plume. The cutest face. And the most adorable cat the world has ever seen.

Sorella (which means sister in Italian) and her brother Piccolo (he was so tiny) moved in with me when Trouble 2 moved out. I needed a family. When the siblings became sexually mature Sorella didn’t tolerate her brother any more and Piccolo moved in with Trouble 1. A perfect solution.

Sorella and I didn’t have the best of starts. The two little kittens left their mom and seven other cats jam-packed in a one bedroom apartment. The switch to a large house in two floors was overwhelming. Those little creatures were totally lost and so unsafe, especially Sorella. I can still feel the pain that first August evening, trying to make them tuck themselves in on my couch under the blanket with me. Sorella crawled away in-under the couch and I couldn't reach her. For the longest time she was afraid of my hands and me and I felt like the worst of mothers, I couldn’t even make the tiniest kitten safe. My self confident as a human being was at the very bottom.

Eventually she started seeking my company. At the breakfast table - which I of course let her since I was so flattered. At my desk. It suited her well since I needed to be working and wouldn’t bother her that much. I waited her out and with time she chose me. And she wanted me to herself. Never really liked when there was people around. Her behaviour became more like a dog. She followed me around the house. To start with I found it really annoying. I got used to it though and it changed to be something nice that I appreciated.

Sorella has been my companion for eleven years. With me through all the difficulties and every life change. She has listened to my cries and seen my tears. Been happy for me (I think) when things have gone well. I’ve shared everything with her and she has been a patient listener. Mostly quiet herself.

I’ve been dreading the day I would loose her. That’s eventually bound to happen. This fall I’ve been worried about her. She hasn’t been up to speed. Her behaviour changed. I think. Or was I paranoid? Out of fear of loosing her.

On Friday morning something was definitely wrong. I needed to get her to the vet. I called my friend Cathrine who lives a couple of villages from here and luckily she could help me out.

The vet was as adorable as Sorella. So compassionate. When the labs were back he delivered the result. As I expected, he said, it is a kidney failure. That’s actually the precis words as he was Irish and we spoke English. His name was Oliver.

I’m so sorry, he continued, but we have to put her to rest.

That’s what I had been thinking all morning. The worst case scenario. I was prepared. I hade been preparering all fall. I had already showered her with gratitude for wanting to share her life with me and everything she does for me. But you are never prepared.

She was sedated from the examination. Wrapped in a blanket to keep warm. On my lap while waiting for the labs. I had buried my fingers in her long fur, feeling her breathing and warm body. Knowing it might be the last time.

On the table again she opened her eyes. They looked dim. I caressed her flaggy fur and beautiful face. Thanked her again. Oliver walked me through the procedure. Then he gave her the injections. Checked her breathing. Listened to her heart. Is she gone, I asked. He nodded.

I hugged him. Thank you for everything you’ve done for us. I am so sorry, he said again. I think she had a good life. Oliver.

My hands were on her body all the way home. Fingers in her fur. The sun shining. I am so happy it was. Cathrine driving. A rock. She is an animal person with her own kennel. I couldn’t have had a better person at my side this day.

Back home I lied down on my couch. I placed Sorella at my chest. In my arms. Her face and nose to my neck. We lay there as the sun set behind Dry Mountain. I talked to her. Buried my face in her fur. That stillness. Her body not warm anymore. Flaccid. I sang to her. My favourite evening hymn. I sang to her. I sang to me. I sang to us. And I cried.

I know it all might sound morbide, but it was the right thing for me to do.

Cathrine was back when the room was dark. She had been home seeing to her six dogs. For the last time I told Sorella we had to move. To get up from the couch.

I found a beautiful brown cloth of plush in my fabric storage. Lighting the candles on the dining table in my yellow kitchen we placed Sorella on the plush. I kissed her adorable face one last time. Thanked her one last time. I said my goodbye. Bid her my farewell. My love. She wasn’t flaccid anymore. We wrapped her in the cloth. It matched her colors. And put her in a box Cathrine brought. It was the perfect size.

Then Cathrine made me dinner before she returned to her dogs. I was by myself.

A week ago I felt such contentment. I was good. Finally filling my house up all by myself. Happy in every room, even my yellow kitchen. But I had forgotten about Sorella. My companion. We were such a happy couple. I haven’t been by myself. Now I am. And my rooms are all empty.

Nov 11, 2018

My yellow kitchen

The other night fragments from a couple of songs for children suddenly on TV, washed over me. And I needed to let my tears out for a moment.

Here is the story.

After 17 years in our house here at the end of the road we were finally ready for our dream kitchen. I designed it to work with the house finished about 1920. Skilled carpenters would build it and the colour would be yellow. As the sun. 

At that point we realised we needed to divorce.

As the work was already in progress we couldn’t back out of it. For many months we lead the project while not knowing who would live in this kitchen, if any of us. The room turned out the way I had imagined and designed. It was gorgeous and the cosiest and most welcoming you could ever dream of. And a trauma.

The years passed. Husband and kids moved out. Moved on. I was by myself in the yellow kitchen. That wasn’t what I had pictured in my dream. It was wrong.

Over the years I have turned room by room in the house into mine. It’s been a process. But the yellow kitchen has been an unhealed wound. A heavy weight. Too tight on me as well as too spacious.

Unexpectedly, this spring the old water leak from some years back became the key for change in the kitchen aspect. 

It turned out the insurance company would pay a grinding of the floor! The pine planks were marked from a twenty year long life, as well as damaged from the water, so that was indeed a treat. And while I was at it I had that dirty old wall paper painted, as well as the ceiling and the fireplace. Mohammed worked all last winter to clean the sea-stone tile above the stove and then covered it with glass. And my friend Irene is this dark November scrubbing the yellow woodwork from grease and sot, building up during twenty years. I tell you, it takes a 70 year old lady to know how to do that!

So what happened the other night? That thing with the songs? I will tell you.

There was these two musicians, Karin Ljungman and James Hollingworth. In the seventies they released two albums with songs for children. The songs were different from anything you’ve heard before and became hugely popular among children as well as their parents. Hear, at the end of the road, those tapes were played over and over again year after year. As well as in the car. They’ve even been in Seattle, a fun company traveling the Olympic Peninsula and Highway 1 down to San Fransisco. Did the tapes eventually brake? Or are they in a box at the baker’s cottage attic? I don’t really know.

This week Karin Ljungman passed away. And it was in the news coverage fragments of those songs were played. And I had to take a moment. 

Music is such a powerful tool. For traveling in time and age. Heart and soul. Mind and body. 

Suddenly my house was full of life. I could here Trouble & Trouble's happy high pitched voices singing, running around. I smelled my husbands dinner cooking. The wet winter clothes drying on the heated mud room tile floor. The annoying sound of the washing machine doing it’s job. The sounds and smell of a family.

I took my glasses off. To make room for the tears. There were some. But not as many as I was preparing for. 

I made room for all those feelings and images. But within minutes a different room came up. My yellow kitchen. MY yellow kitchen.

The kitchen that now has the most beautiful white stained pine floor looking like new. A white ceiling as well as fire place with no traces of sot. Light-haze-pinkish walls, perfect for creating the gallery that’s been on my mind for so long. And the yellow wood work is actually yellow. 

For all these years I’ve been wanting to repaint the woodwork in a different colour. That yellow was making me sick. The original dream turned into a bad one and I’ve been feeling the need of wiping it away.  

And in the aftermath of the fragments of those songs, the fragments of a vivid memory, I am realising that’s what I’ve been doing these past months. I am good now. I am lighting the candles in the morning while having breakfast. Listening to Sting, Mercury Falling. There is no need for change of colour anymore. After all, yellow was my choice. For the kitchen. My yellow kitchen.

Nov 4, 2018

The new normal

A photo lens capturing an object at it’s natural shape has o focal length of 50mm. It sees pretty much what your eyes see. It doesn’t tweak or twist in any way. The lens is often called Normal.

A regular mobile phone lens is about 28mm, also called Wide Angle. It’s perfect for shooting landscapes as it catches a wide perspective. It stretches the picture. But a landscape is forgiving. The photographer doesn’t mind, nor does the object.

Shooting portrait with a wide angle is a different story. As a straight forward portrait stretches to the sides, your nose looks wider. And a profile shot gives you a long nose. 

In this case the object is not as forgiving, it turns out. And the plastic surgery industry is flourishing.

Do you remember when the era of group selfies started, how weird people looked? This was before pretty much every individual went narcissistic and turned the camera towards him/herself. Yes, this was when we realised we could document a fun gathering with everyone in the picture, even the photographer, how amazing!

But to squeeze everyone in we are on different distances to the lens and we all look tweaked and twisted. Distorted. Or should I say, looked, because we have now gotten so used to these distorted pictures we hardly notice it any more. The Wide Angle shot has turned Normal.

But. When it comes to noses on portraits I would say our brains have gone distorted.

I could of course write a whole chapter on the subject selfies. How we have gone from shying away from cameras to being obsessed by documenting ourselves from every angle and in every situation. How even children at an early age learn how to pose in front of a mobile phone. Does this sound healthy?

Back to the nose. As most photos in this time and age are shot by a phone, most pictures are captured by a wide angle lens.  That’s pretty much all we see. Younger people who have never owned a camera don’t know of anything else. All they are aware of is a world in a wide angle view.

Including themselves. Noses captured by a 28mm lens. Distorted. Long. Or wide. And as their phones are jam packed with long nosed selfies, that’s how they perceive themselves. The 28mm lens has distorted their brains. And they have no idea.

That's why the plastic surgery industry is going through the roof. Because that’s where the distorted brains end up. There is nothing (in most cases) wrong with the nose. It’s the new Normal Wide Angle playing an ugly trick with our brains.

I wonder how short of a nose you need to make it look normal on a profil-posed mobile shot. Will the world be inhabited by people who look normal on their selfies but distorted In Real Life? How distorted is that? 

Oct 28, 2018

A very good day of my life

I am passing on the hateful dramas in US this week. Speechless. I don’t have anything to add.

I am passing on the Swedish PM Stefan Löfven tomorrow most certainly informing the Speaker he has failed on his assignment forming a new government. I have nothing to add there either.

Instead I will give you a good day of my life. Ending with watching my son as a musician on an international scene.

This weekend the Umeå Jazz Festival has been celebrating it’s 50th anniversay. It’s an international festival, and through the years everyone has been here. I’m saying everyone. Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davies, Chick Corea, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, you name them. And that’s just the real old heroes. I’m saying everyone!

Umeå Jazz Festival is accordingly a big event, lighting up the late October darkness. When I was young we used to spend all the extended weekend listening to as much as we could afford. Some years we even were a part of the festival as musicians, either with the choir Sångkraft or our vocal group Oktetten Moritz. Those times were special of course, also because we got to carry an Artist Pass around our necks, giving us access to every single concert in the program. Gosh, the week after was a hang over from sleep depravation and overwhelming experiences!

I don’t know when I last visited the festival. It might have been ten years ago. And for the last six years it’s been out of the question. My body just can’t do it.

This year though there was an act I really wished to see. Gidge.

Gidge is Trouble 2 and his high school friend Jonatan. An electronica duo nowadays touring places like Berlin, Amsterdam, Budapest, London, Bucharest and even Georgien and Mexico. They have created their own nisch, forest-techno. The two of them growing up on the countryside they are rooted in the woods and making music inspired by it. Sampling the sounds of a branch breaking, the wind, walking on sticks and a trumpeting crane, transitioning them into rhythms and sound clouds. 

What’s really fascinating is how Gidge's music is received in big cities far away from the northern Swedish forests. You would think the feel of a misty greenery on the 64th latitude would be too foreign to catch inner city souls, but it seems like the opposite. Their shows also include big screen projections with video images featuring the nature from where Gidge was born and grew up. Their neck of the woods. As well as mine.

It’s really rare for Gidge to have s show in Umeå. And of course, to me very special they were picked to be an act at the Umeå Jazz Festival 50th celebration. Oh how I wanted to be a part of that. And I actually was!

Audrey’s mom, yet another Maria, picked me up in the afternoon. She carried my bar stool and and my foldable textile garden chair, the tools I need for enjoying a concert. The festival takes place at a great downtown facility offering venues of all sizes. We saw three very different acts, a perfect mix. And just like back in the days I bumped in to old friends and colleagues cause everyone is there, so much fun! The mother-in-law-friends also had a delicious three course dinner until the restaurant was invaded by ambitious Halloween costumes and turned into a night club. 

Gidge was on at 11.15 PM, an unusually early slot for the Europe travellers. I climbed my bar stool and plugged my ears. And dived into a forest bath. That’s how Gidge music was described in the festival program. “Their music is like morning fog above the swamp, spider web in juniper, the majestic pine trees humming and the scent of moist moss. There is mysticism and contemplation”. 

I am so glad I was there. So grateful. It is such a gift watching my son and his long-time friend expressing themselves in music and photo. We are going to be nr.1 in the world, that’s what they said to each other when they playfully started out their giggling experimenting in the high school sound lab. I don’t know if that’s still there goal, but it’s wonderful seeing them realising themselves, still with that boyish playfulness at the core. 

It was well passed midnight when Maria drove me and my chairs back to the village. Roads icy from the snow falling the night before. We had spent twelve hours together and Saving Time had change to Normal before we said good night. My day had been perfect. Hard on my body of course. But I had the joy of a total Umeå Jazz Festival experience again. A full day of fun with my friend Maria. And I got to see Trouble 2 as an act at the Festival 50th anniversary. A very good day of my life.