Marja-Leena Rathje
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this and that


This morning as I sat at my computer next to the window, some movement caught the corner of my eye - six big crows were strutting about the lawn, looking for grubs perhaps? I was too slow getting the camera. Usually they are on our roof and chimney top, their heavy thumping often startling anyone alone in the house into thinking someone's breaking in.

Yesterday evening was very memorable - we had Miguel and Mika here. Miguel is very much in love with this region after his two weeks here. Mika, who has only been here a couple of days loves what she has seen of Vancouver so far. Delighted to meet her, we were very impressed with Mika's accent-free English, thanks to Miguel's coaching. During a little tour of our home and some of my art, Miguel made two interesting comments that really pleased me - how he could recognize our home and setting just from my blog descriptions, and how my art work looks so different and much better than on the web. We enjoyed much conversation and laughter in the evening sunshine on our back deck over a meal centered around BBQ'd sockeye salmon. As it cooled down, we moved indoors for dessert of blueberry kiisseli with whip cream and a few wild blackberries on top. After driving them back to their hotel by English Bay, we felt sad saying goodbye to them both but hope we'll meet again someday.

Roundabout meanderings on the net led me to this exciting discovery: Sky Mirror by Anish Kapoor. Remember the Kapoor piece we saw in Brighton but didn't know it's name? That's it, how beautiful! And, this surprised me:

The artwork itself, which was manufactured in Finland, is a six-metre wide concave dish of polished stainless steel weighing ten tonnes and angled up towards the sky. It reflects the ever changing environment, season to season, day and night. (emphasis mine)

PS. Evening of Aug.27th - Things will be quiet on this blog for a few days. We're going to the islands to enjoy some of the last glorious days of summer! I've been too busy getting ready to write another post, hence this short note.

Marja-Leena | 25/08/2009 | 23 comments
themes: Blogging, Canada and BC, Other artists


That might be true about better than on the web, but it does look sure darn good on the web.

Marja-Leena, you will have to pop over this Autumn for the Kapoor exhibition at the Royal Academy in London!

Hi lilalia! Thanks so much. I think Miguel meant that details and textures are much more apparent in real life and even the colours, which can look different from one monitor to another.

Olga, that's tempting indeed! So are the Kapoor exhibitions in Boston and the new installation for the Guggenheim in Berlin. I've never seen more than one or two of his works at a time so a retrospective would be great. Some day...

I have no doubt that your work is more interesting to see in person. How lucky Miguel got to see it! I'm jealous. Anyway, sounds like you had another lovely visit.

Pity you couldn't photograph the six crows on the rooftop.

Oh! There's a sky mirror in NYC?! That's very exciting to know.
What a superb evening it must have been for all of you (a delight for the senses it sounds like!). Late summer evenings have a flavour all their own.

Oh, what a lovely visit you all had!

We have crows hanging out on our roof, often way too early in the morning -- and sometimes banging the metal around the chimneys, making for very strange music to accompany their "singing."

Leslee, thanks, the visit was truly lovely with such warm and interesting people.

Joe, any time I try, they fly!

Rouchswalwe, you must go see Sky Mirror in NYC and tell me about it! Delighful evening in so very many ways, yes.

Maria, are your crows a family? Their 'music' sounds just like ours! I've heard they stick around and have their babies every year in the same place. They love to dip dry bread in the eavestroughs when they are filled with rainwater.

Sometimes I think art looks better on the net than in person, sometimes not. But it certainly looks different. It's interesting to see it both ways. In London I saw some of the illustrations for Natalie's current story. These were definitely created to be seen on the web. Other pieces do not translate so well.

What a great dinner party!

The sky mirror is extraordinary. It's unfortunate more government money isn't spent on things that take our breath away and take us out of ourselves.

Susan, indeed! Oh, something I wondered about this mirror...that it doesn't cause fires when the sun hits it. Maybe it always faces north.

Beautiful blossoms. Have a wonderful trip to the islands!

I probably never told you I am deeply, deeply suspicious of the origins of oleander. I have a visceral loathing for the stuff, even when one manages to portray it as peacefully as you have here. I know it is poison, but even being within sight of the stuff puts me on edge. I really, really despise driving on freeways where they use it in the center divide... sends me directly to the slow lane and looking for possible alternate routes.

I hope you are enjoying yourself out there.

I'm catching up with posts on the blogs I follow, having been too preoccupied for several weeks. I've missed a lot, it seems.

Lovely photo at the top of this post. I can't remember the name of the flower, though.

Hope you have wonderful visit to the islands.


I am very fond of crows and miss them here. Hawaii has a crow, but it is down to a very few individuals. Its ecological niche has been taken over by mynahs, who are amusing but not as smart.

Have a wonderful time, Marja-Leena, as your great summer gives way to a glorious fall!

Catching up with your visit and enjoying it vicariously. Someday I hope to have the chance to fall in love with your beautiful home city just as Miguel did.

Dear Marja-Leena,

Finally returned to Japan and to the humidity. Mika and I enjoyed every moment of our stay in BC and both of us are loathe to return here. Meeting you and Fred and the rest of your family was one of the highlights of the trip and neither Mika nor I can stop mentioning about how wonderful it was to talk with all of you. We only regret that we didn't have more time to spend together and that we didn't take photographs while at your house.

I will write more in a personal letter to you, but just wanted to let you know that we are safe and sound and spiritually full to the brim. This was one of the best trips I've ever had.


Lucy, thanks, it was a wonderful five day island hopping holiday. I'll be sharing it all later along with some of the many many photos. We got home late last night so today is unpacking, laundry and catch-up day.

99 - I'm sorry that my photo is so disturbing for you! I've grown oleanders for over 30 years, starting when my mother-in-law gave me her beautiful double pink scented one. Since then a friend has given me many cuttings of others like this white one. They work well for me in the solarium in the winter, then summering out on the decks. As far as I can tell, no one had been poisoned by them, especially me who handles them, taking cuttings and growing new ones every year. I loved them in Italy and once gave a plant to an Italian-Canadian friend of ours!

Martha, thanks for the good wishes and for visiting! As you will have now found out, that's a white oleander.

Hattie, I seem to have it in my head that crows are northern birds, so what you say is interesting though sad.

Patry, wonderful to see you here! I too hope you can come and visit one day.

Miguel, thank you for this lovely note and for the opportunities to spend time with you both. We are so pleased for you that this trip was so great for you. And I'm sorry we forgot to take more pictures too - we seemed to always be so deeply wrapped in conversation. Wishing you well back in Japan. Looking forward to some blog posts about your trip!

The oleander is a welcome sight in dry Southern Europe. It's too wet for them here. Their flower colors are surprisingly delicate for a plant that is so tough in its native environment.

Hattie, yes. In wet summers they don't do so well outdoors here. I try to keep them under the eaves then. This summer they are quite lovely!