Stumbling through time

Of late, I have found myself restless and worried. It’s quite common for the mood to shift with the seasons, and autumn is undoubtedly arriving, at least up north here in Sweden. With it come the colds. I think most everyone I know has been posting about how sniffly they are and their sore throats on facebook for the past two weeks.

In this restlessness, I found myself looking for a new facebook game to play. Yes. I was actually looking for a new facebook game. Actively. And I already play 3. Well, two that I play, one that I have lost my addiction to. So I stopped what I realised must be a clear sign of desperation and sat down to write out things that me and my husband like to do, that we are good at. We intend to start our own company, but all the things we are good at are fairly… insubstantial. Creativity, writing, story-telling, analysing, prop-making… and most of those are just my husband’s. So attempting to start a company, based on passion alone, with no funds, and little actual professional experience, has proven a frustrating process. (If any of my beloved readers have suggestions based on the things I wrote above, please, tell me. I would love comments with suggestions).

So after I stopped myself in the hunt for a new facebook game, and then put the company ideas on the shelf until further notice, I delved deeper into my latest obsession: Stumbleupon. I can, honestly, sit for hours and just “stumble”. I felt that my posts need some form of gimmick, so from now on, I shall attempt to end my posts with a few links to things I recently stumbled upon and thoroughly enjoyed, for one reason or another.  So I shall kick this off by sharing a LOT of things that I enjoyed on Stumbleupon.

This man creates an “image” on the wall through the shadow of objects. Quite astounding.

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/4yvz0l/catinwater.com/2012/08/21/rashad-alakbarov-paints-with-shadows-and-light/

This picture made me smile… a lot 🙂

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/323KpH/media.al.com/birmingham-buzz/photo/goldie1971jpg-a0de64e9bd62fd9b.jpg/

These pictures of snowflakes are so incredibly beautiful. I know macro-photos of snowflakes aren’t new and exciting any more, but I will always find them extraordinary.

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2pnYmj/www.petapixel.com/2012/12/07/ethereal-macro-photos-of-snowflakes-in-the-moments-before-they-disappear/

This is an amusing, interactive page.

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1n6win/www.drawastickman.com/episode1?o=66-69-32-67-82-69-65-84-73-86-69s66-89-58-32-84-72-69-32-66-65-78-68-69-69/

And finally, an adorable video of a grizzly bear cub playing with a wolf puppy. Daaaaaaw!

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/30xLvD/www.youtube.com/watch?v=vL8x7LcA-Y4/

The Importance of Dance, Lanterns and… Two Extraordinary Photographers

This post is about… well, exactly what the title says. I am first going to post a few of the lovely pictures taken by my even more lovely sister-in-law, and then follow them by fucking fantastic pictures taken by my fucking fantastic best friend. At the bottom I will actually write a little, as well. I know, right?

Image

My something blue

Image

Walking away from the ceremony

cake

Reassembling the cake

theo

What my nephew did while I was re-assembling it.

The above pictures were all taken by my lovely sister-in-law, and this is her photo-blog, in case you missed it.

together

First dance

dance

Quite cute

thought

Thoughtful groom

future

Sending a light towards the future

These four above pictures were taken by none other than our extremely talented best man, whose blog can be found here, and who has posted some of her favourites pictures from our wedding, if you want to see more.

To me, it was important not to have a stranger taking pictures at our wedding. I wanted everyone present to truly be a part of our day, and so there was no catering-staff, no wedding-planner, no photographer… well, we did have an officiator, but he was only there for the ceremony. We had extremely helpful, loving friends and family members, who made this day possible through gifts, money, and so much help with food and decorations and planning… and as you can see, they helped us make it the memory of a life-time.

Not only are they both extremely talented… it was so much easier to smile and be yourself than if you have a “professional” wedding-photographer that knows how they want things, and the sort of pictures that “couples usually want”. What we got was unique, warm, friendly and quirky. I got so much more than I had hoped for. So if you have very talented friends with their own cameras… spend that wedding-photographer budget on something else.

If you wish to find out how I made the ruffle-cake up top, here’s the link to the Swiss-meringue butter-cream recipe I used. I used a massive Wilton piping-nozzle to get nice, wide ruffles, and also created the roses on top, with a little help from this useful you-tutorial.

The lanterns in the pictures we bought 10-packs for £17, I’m sure you could find them for cheaper. We even had some left over. It was a wonderful way to end the evening, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for the perfect way to seal the wedding-day.

After the Storm

A little over two weeks has passed since I did. Well, I said “I do”, rather. And also “I will”. Before you ask: no. I do not feel any different as a married woman. I find myself repeating the phrase “it’s kind of like your birthday: you know that you are a year older, technically, but you do not feel any different from the day before”. I continue to feel overjoyed and blessed that I get to share my life with this wonderful person, whether as his wife, girlfriend, fiancée or whatever other creative words we have for “romantic involvement”. Perhaps I can’t pinpoint any specific sensations of “just married” bliss because I never got out of the “hi, there you are! I love you!” bliss upon first falling in love with a person. I wake up filled with gratitude every morning because I can turn over and see him in bed next to me, with a sleepy, adorable smile on his face. So no, I don’t feel any different. I still feel just as wonderful as I felt before.

This next post (or two) will be about the wedding. Maybe it will give you a few creative ideas. I will also blog about my oldest brother’s wedding, in due time. Their’s was a bit more quirky, since they had a distinct theme: 1920’s. Our theme was more in the colour-scheme of things, as can be seen in the following pictures:

Image

Image

The serviettes took a considerable amount of time to fold. They worked well as place-settings, added colour and a feeling of general festivity. I was going to show you how I folded them, but I can’t remember what the fold is called, so after searching for 20 minutes on youtube to try to find the tutorial I used, I gave up. If you want to know how I did it, ask, and I’ll try to record a tutorial. How about that?

The above pictures, along with many others which will be posted in the future, were taken by none other than my very talented sister-in-law, whose artistic photo-blog can be found here.

The flowers were simple and so were the candles, no mystery there. The posters on the walls were created by my husband, and tell our story in 9 chapters which you can find if you go to his blog, here. (Here’s chapter no. 1 if you wish to read it from the beginning).

A fun wedding-game was this:

shoes2

Where my oldest brother, our toast-master, initiated proceedings with the following instructions:

1. Bride and groom stand back-to-back, (so they can’t see each other), holding one of their shoes.

2. Guests may ask any question according to the pattern of “who/which one of you does the most/doesn’t…”, so that the couple can hold of their shoes to say “Me! I do!”

3. Example: “Who does the dishes?” “Who does the shopping?” “Who’s the first to say sorry?”

4. If the bride and groom both hold up shoes to the same question, a discussion may ensue, where the couple has to explain their thinking.

That is all for now. More on activities, cake and dress in a later post. Also, a picture or two from our other wedding-photographer and Best Man, whose photo-blog can be found here.

Here Comes the Bride… (And who’s that? Oh. It’s just her shrink).

It is now a few hours less than 8 days  till my surname changes forever. In other words, I will be a married woman, and I am aware that I do not HAVE to change my name, and that I can change back to my “nee” at any moment… but since it is a voluntary action, I do not think we have to argue any further.

My wonderful husband-to-be is none other than a fellow WordPresser. In fact, we met through our respective blogs. It was far from intentional: he read an early blog of mine, he liked what he read, I read his blog, likewise, and a friendly exchange between bloggers began. To be honest, it never even entered my head that we could have any kind of romance ahead in our mutual future, nor that we would ever meet, or even speak outside of the “Leave a Comment” section on the other’s blog.

Ha ha ha.

Well, here we stand today… or rather, in 13 days and a few hours time. Since I will be going on and on about how we met and who we are and all the romantic stuff for several posts ahead, I would like to make this post one of caution… and no. I am not telling people not to get married. Duh. What? I’M getting married for crying out loud! I would never lecture people on that. No. I am instead going to make a weak attempt at being of help to other future brides out there, by listing a few things I didn’t really think about before the wedding, and which have come back to bite me in my more sensitive parts as the day draws near. These are:

1. People.

You may think that it is very obvious exactly who you want to attend your wedding, and who you’d never want to share your special day. Fair enough. To me, it seemed an easy enough question… and then POOF! Out of the blue, I certainly started thinking “how do these people get along? will that person get hurt if I invite him but not her? will these people want to sit together, or apart? is it too long ago that I saw that person to invite them? I know this person will say no, but should I invite them anyway, because it’s the right thing to do?” and hey presto! Your head is suddenly spinning with what-ifs and whose-its. So my number one recommendation is take time to THINK! You may end up not having invited some people that you in hindsight would really like to be there, or inviting some people out of guilt that you regret inviting once you think about the food and drink you’ll be treating them to… so stop to think. Take your time. You’re only getting married once (well, I am. If you’re undecided, maybe it’s not so important. Then you can forget about this one and move on).

2. Theme.

Now, I’m one of those wondrously naive people who can say stuff like “I don’t really care what it looks like/I never really thought about it/I’m sure it will all work out in the end” about things such as decor, venue, general theme of the wedding etc. *stifled laughter*. Mhm. Here’s the thing. Even if you, like me, haven’t spent your entire life planning your wedding-day into the tiniest and minutest of details, all of a sudden things which didn’t seem that important will take on a magnitude that the Sphinx can’t really compare to. So try not to sit there like me, a few days before the wedding, hoping you will be able to find something green in the wild to decorate the room with, that won’t whither and die within two second of being picked. And if you were wondering, yes, it will be important to get those specific candle-holders. Trust me on this. This wedding is stupidly simple, low-budget and laid-back… and the details are still hurting my brain.

3. Expense.

Think about that for a second. If you have a certain dream-wedding in mind, you will definitely want to think about the budget before you pick a date. And once you have thought about the budget, think about it some more. Try to come up with more possible expenses. We have already had multiple: my dress, which was only going to cost me £162 (custom-sown, ordered on the internet, including transport) ended up costing me another £78… in customs. This is a cost that many sites will conveniently forget to mention when you order, so you’ll have to look up possible customs expenses when you order from out-of-borders by yourself. Because when you are already hard up for wedding-funds, an unforeseen £78 is not what you want to have to pay.  We also have to pay extra for the ceremony, which would otherwise have been free, because our officiator is from a municipality not our own. And a cravatt can be much more expensive than you think. So sit down, think about the cost down to the nitty gritty details, and then add extra money (a lot of extra money) for the “in case” fund. Because there will be “I never thought about that” expenses.

4. Help from your friends.

My friends and family-members, and family-members-to-be, are truly wonderful people. If you are arranging a wedding where you are doing basically EVERYTHING yourselves, you will probably need to ask some people for help. Think about who to ask for what. Some people will gladly help you cook or set tables, whereas some may feel a bit insulted. Some you can trust with carrying those rings and getting your grandmother home safely, and some you can’t trust with pouring welcome-drinks. Asking for help can be difficult, and it is, for me. If you are worried about stepping on toes, try to gauge who actually would like to help, and who would just say “yes” to be polite. Just try to keep a nice balance on things: you don’t want to have a guest of yours working their a** off all day, but you don’t want to be standing there doing dishes and carrying chairs either.

5. Traditiooooooons. Traditions. TRADITIONS!

Today, quirky and modern is becoming increasingly popular. The bride shall carry the groom across the threshold, the mother will give her away and maybe the ceremony should be held whilst bungee-jumping? There are, naturally, still some very “conservative” weddings, with the white dress, the cake-cutting, the father-of-the-bride speech etc. I have no objections to either. What is important is to ask yourself: this thing that we are about to have/not have at our wedding, is it because WE want it or because a) we don’t want to follow tradition or b) we haven’t even thought about it simply being a tradition because everyone does it? There are some I’ve chosen to stick with: the cake, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”, bridal bouquet, brides-maid… but my dress will be champagne, my father won’t walk me down the aisle and our best man is a wonderful woman… but the title is still Best Man, so don’t you go trying to change that around now! 😉 Just consider that a wedding can be exactly the way you want it. Don’t let yourselves be governed by traditions, or the fear of them.

 

One last, tiny piece of advice… don’t panic. Douglas Adams said it right. My husband-to-be has tried to help me in this regard. When I start hyperventilating about the things that may go wrong, everything that will have to be done last minute and all the expenses, he does his best to calm me down. I can’t say I don’t panic occasionally anyway… but it certainly doesn’t help one bit. Here’s a friendly reminder, printed on our custom-made wedding-invitations:

20130719_015733

I don’t know if these words will help any desperate brides or grooms out there. It has given me a nice little venting-space, however, and something to type while the pasta-sauce is simmering to delicious, tomatoey thickness. I’m going to go boil some fusilli now. OK. Bye.

The smallest

That the tiniest hair,

or wrinkle,

blemish or vein,

turn into

 

a symphony,

glorious in its praise.

 

Within a darkened ring,

under the waves of your lid,

a billowing of colours;

deep water green,

and sunlight

 

yellow,

sparkling with each flash

of conciousness,

shining into me,

through layers

of smiles.

 

That the corner of a mouth,

curve of a lobe,

bright line at your temple

fills me with such

raging tenderness,

 

leaves me in

 

thoughtless wonder.

 

And then, finally,

the clamour fades

as, mouth to mouth,

we lose our way

 

together.

O brave new world. That has such people in’t!

Good evening/morning/midday/midnight my dears! I have once again managed to be absent for an indecent period of time, and have come back with some new perspectives.

Exactly. Perspective. That’s what my brain has been mulling over in the very slow and painful process of thinking these past few days. So allow me to just as slowly and painfully take you through the reasons why, and what is has finally come up with. Oh, and don’t expect anything grand.

A few days ago my lovely boyfriend came for a very enjoyable visit; we went out to a great restaurant, set out on a midnight hunt for chocolate in dangerous territory, went dress-hunting but found only pizza and Zippo lighters and most glorious of all, talked. We discussed little things and big big things, and somewhere in there, I gained new perspective. The realisation that some things you just cannot understand until you have actually experienced them yourself! “Huh. Well that’s fairly obvious” you might say. But just stop to think for a second.

We are the centre of our universe. From within our heads, we observe, think, smell, sense, calculate, remember and react to everything that happens around us. From within our heads, we imagine what it feels like to be someone else, or to be in a different situation, one so very foreign to you that your brain has to conjure images from movies long ago seen, stories long ago read and cat pee long ago smelled. Yet there’s a funny part of our brain that tells us that we understand exactly what the other person is talking about. A part we’d like to think of as not only imaginative and creative but also very empathic.

Dead wrong. Assuming that you understand someone else perfectly is the exact opposite of empathy. Empathy is to attempt to relate to what someone else is feeling, knowing that their situation is unique and you can only try to imagine what it feels like. But for some curious reason, this part of our brain – let’s call it the “I’m awesome because I can relate perfectly to everyone” part. Or maybe imo for short. – tells us that we in fact know what they feel, know what they think and so in some strange sense are connected to them and can not only offer kind advice and solace, but give instructions, and tell them that they are wrong.

Well, let’s just for a second try to tell that part of our brains to go screw themselves. I know that right now you’ll have to stop yourself from thinking either “I know exactly what she’s talking about, I feel like this all the time!” or “Whoa, she’s gone batty, she must be this and this kind of a person to talk like this, I have her pegged” but whichever one it is, that’s the part of our brains that we somehow can’t seem to switch off in the interactions we have with other human beings. Just try though.

From this place where we are standing now, isn’t it somehow easier to understand others? Because when someone says something, instead of our brain instantly jumping to five thousand conclusions about how they feel, what they must be thinking and what would make them feel better/what they ought to do about it, we can just sit back, watch, listen and actually hear what they are saying, and not what we think about what they are saying. I know it gets eerily quiet in there when you do this, but it’s also kind of fun, and a relief.

Maybe people would sometimes just like to be heard, to be listened to, and not to always get a pat on the back or a “The sun will come up tomorrow!”/”There are other fish in the sea!”/”Get off your high horses!”/”You’re doing it wrong!” etc. Maybe if we take the little imo in our heads and bundle it up in a roll of duct-tape and tuck it away in a dark corner for a few hours each day, we could honestly see what is going on around us, and not just what we think and feel about it all the time.

Studies (can’t remember where I read this now, was some kind of medical or psychological journal) made with 3 and 4-year-olds has shown that it’s around that age when, if put in front of a model of say, a small mountain, it’s around that age that children develop their ability to see the mountain from someone else’s perspective, and not just the side that they see. So we obviously have that ability somewhere. Unless we grew up and lost it. But are we really the people with “different-coloured lenses on our glasses” (thank you Fynn and Mr. God, This Is Anna. Still one of the best books ever) or do we have it in us to take those lenses off from time to time, open our eyes and see things as they truly are?

A Bug’s Strife

As a prelude and an explanation for this post, I recently got rid of a plant that had an anthill growing in the pot, which for months now has been in our bathroom. It took me a while to truly realise that the pot was the source of the problem, and I got rid of it last night. Over time, my interaction with the ants, unfriendly as it may have been, has lead me to some strange musings on what it must be like to be those ants. 

Day 1; The aliens have captured us from our earthen home among trees and plants and stuck us in some kind of massive basket lined with plastic. I believe they are keeping us here to observe our behaviour. The country outside the basket is barren, the only plant in sight the one growing in our new habitat, and I have sent some scouts out over the grey basin in search for food and a way back home.

Day 9; The aliens keep pouring water on us. None of the men have drowned yet, but I fear it might happen. Are they trying to torture us for information? We will tell them nothing, we stand united.

Day 45; The aliens appear to have servants, much smaller but still greater than a thousand of my fellow men. The plant, which has so far been the only friendly and familiar thing in this hostile environment, is now slowly getting torn to pieces and disassembled by these creatures. It has become clear to me that the alien is indeed trying to torture us with the water, since it does nothing for the plant in this state.

Day 56; Some of the troops managed to reach a distant land, across the boarders of the grey basin, where sustenance was abundant, but before they could bring any back to our new habitat they were killed by the alien. There was an ungodly rattle, these great lights flooded the world and a few hours later, one of the scouts returned with the sad news. Why then has the alien brought us here, if they intend not to observe us but to starve us to death?

Day 72; We have found sustenance, in the shape of a strong-tasting, sticky liquid high up above the basin floor. It is blue in colour and minty in taste and it makes the men rowdy but it keeps us alive. Did the aliens intend for us to find and drink this liquid? What is their plan?

Day 130; The aliens’ underlings are attempting to slaughter us, slowly but cruelly, one by one. They will lie in wait on the floor of the basin behind the great white metallic object that occasionally fills with a thunderous waterfall, and though I have sent out many men to defeat them, none of them have returned. Is this a game to them? Do they realise their cruelty? They do not seem to be as intelligent as the aliens, as they appear to be following their commands.

Day 202; My suspicions were correct. One of the underlings forcefully knocked our new home over, bringing the earth and now dead plant crashing all over the floor of the basin. I ordered the men to scatter but our attempts were futile, the alien that has been trying to drown us used a big device to bring us from the basin-floor and back into the woven prison. In here, we may starve to death, drown or get eaten by the underlings, but whatever fate befalls us, I know it is a dark one.

Day 204; The previous behaviour was repeated. Why the alien keeps returning us to this pot after it has its underlings knock our home over baffles me. Perhaps they expect us to rebuild our home, maybe they are seeing how we survive in an unfriendly, dangerous environment. Either way, there will not be much time left for us now. I know the end is near.

Day 216; I write this in the darkness. The alien has removed us from the confines of the basket-like structure and put us inside something that appears to be thin plastic. I could feel us moving a great distance, but there is no light, and since the rocky landing, no movement or sound has been made. I can tell from the surrounding smell that there is some kind of sustenance nearby.

Day 217; I sent the men out, but shortly after came a roaring of the skies and a rumbling never before felt. I have lost my men and am currently hiding under an orange-peel, in the vain hope that these words will someday reach another civilization and teach them of the horrors we have lived through. These are my last words. May they aid future generations.