dancing mists

My son-in-law took pity on me for the loss of my photos, which I had written about in my previous post, so he generously offered to share this beautiful moody time-lapse video he made of the shifting mists over the lake last November. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thanks, Jonathan!

P.S. View the video fullscreen by pressing the button with 4 arrows on the right side of video player. Then press Esc on your keyboard to exit fullscreen mode.

seasonal treats


Some fun seasonal reading and viewing with a Finnish twist:

1. Living With Finland’s Reindeer Cowboys. Stunningly beautiful photography in this short video and in the film link to be found in the fascinating article. Image above is captured from here.

2. A Pet Reindeer watches TV

3. Santa lives in Finnish Lapland – a newspaper article from a few years ago that I’ve posted before and just came across again.

Enjoy your preparations for the upcoming holidays!

books & films


A delicious benefit of the hot lazy days of summer is that I indulge in much more reading than I have time for in other times of the year. I like having longer periods of uninterrupted time so that I don’t forget storylines and long lists of characters. Below is a list of the books I enjoyed the most, some readings going back to spring. Except for the last one, all were borrowed from our local library as I rarely purchase fiction.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Chosen thanks to this review.

Canada by Richard Ford. Much intrigued by the title when mentioned by Joe Hyam.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Recommended by Susan.

A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. I hope the next book in her trilogy comes out soon!

Picture Maker by Penina Keen Spinka. I wish my library had the sequels!

Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo, a translation from the Finnish language. A review.

The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon (she lives near Vancouver). I am looking forward to the sequel, The Sweet Girl, see Lyon’s blog.

Val/Orson by Marly Youmans. The only book on this list that I have purchased.

And here are a couple of films on DVD that we have recently enjoyed very much:

Life of Pi based on an award winning novel by Canadian Yann Martel.

The Big Fish, a revisit.

Also, the Canadian Murdoch Mysteries TV series has become an addiction for me while I am on my exercise bike. Some reruns from TV, DVDs from library, and now the past season online. Will watch for season 7 starting soon!

And what have you been reading and watching this summer?

last day of 2012





A few scenes from this afternoon’s walk… how I love the dark lines and silhouettes of the trees against bright water and sky. I love those white clouds and patches of blue behind.

As I wrote five years ago:
I feel some sadness in saying goodbye to another year. Changing the annual calendars is such an adrupt marker of the passage of time and of aging, inducing a twinge of melancholy in me. I’ve sometimes wondered if all the partying, drinking and merriment is a way to avoid looking at Father Time in the eye.

As in most years, we celebrate at home quietly. I think this year we’ll open the Christmas gift of Grand Marnier for a toast at midnight. As always, especially at these milestones on the calendar, I’m thankful for the many good things in my life.

Thank you to all of you dear friends and readers for the past year’s delights. I wish you all a New Year of Happiness, Good Health, Inspiration and Abundant Creativity! Hauskaa Uutta Vuotta! Bonne Année! Allen ein frohes Neues Jahr!

Oh, and should you be looking for suitable art to complement your evening, how about art of intoxication?

And, if in Germany, you’d likely be watching “Dinner for One”, a tradition for 50 years. I saw this last year, it is hilarious! Find it on YouTube and enjoy!

paleo cartoons

Bison from the End Chamber of Chauvet Cave – from Bradshaw Foundation

This is fascinating news:
Prehistoric cave artists used cartoon-like techniques to give the impression that their images were moving across cave walls, two French researchers have suggested. A new study of cave art across France – in which animals appear to have multiple limbs, heads and tails – has found that the paintings are actually primitive attempts at animation. When the images are viewed under the unsteady light of flickering flames the images can appear to move as the animals they represent do, the research claims.

Mr Azéma, after 20 years researching Stone Age animation techniques, has identified 53 paintings in 12 French caves which superimpose two or more images to apparently represent movement.

More at Daily Mail, UK. The animations created by archaeologist Marc Azéma show how the paintings might look to our eye in the flickering fires in those very ancient caves.

This study makes me recall Werner Herzog’s film Cave of Forgotten Dreams. (The image above is reposted from that blog entry but is not necessarily identified by M. Azéma as an example.) Also my beloved Earth’s Children series of books by Jean M. Auel. Her last book especially has vividly described scenes of paintings being created in the caves, as well as the sacred rituals taking place in them in flickering firelight and in darkness.

Kiitos, thanks to Finnish author and blog friend Anna Amnell for her post on this, one of my favourite themes on my blog. As Anna said, the more we learn about these early humans, the more we are amazed by their intelligence and creativity.

fossil hunting 2





More photos from that long ago visit to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta. Unlike most of the photos I’d taken there, two here captured some information – the third photo shows a nothosaur, and the last one a part of a bobastrania. I will have to look them up.

For me, the shapes, lines and textures of these fossils, most fossils, are visually very entrancing and intriguing. The knowledge that these are the remains of very ancient living creatures captured forever in rock touches something in my soul and makes me feel very small.

Added a few hours later: Evidence of earliest animals found in Newfoundland – a fascinating discovery in an already amazing fossil site! There is also a mention of BC’s Burgess Shale fossil site. If I recall correctly the Newfoundland site was featured in one of the episodes of the Geologic Journey series shown on CBC.

the beauty of pollination


A friend sent me the link to this exquisitely beautiful time lapse video.

At the end I learned that it comes from a TED talks presentation by filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg:

Pollination: it’s vital to life on Earth, but largely unseen by the human eye. Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg shows us the intricate world of pollen and pollinators with gorgeous high-speed images from his film “Wings of Life,” inspired by the vanishing of one of nature’s primary pollinators, the honeybee.

Enjoy his short but beautiful and inspiring talk and video.

(The photo above is mine.)

Herzog film on Chauvet Caves


Bison from the End Chamber of Chauvet Cave – from Bradshaw Foundation

As most long time readers of my blog know, I am fascinated by ancient pictographs, petroglyphs and other art forms. They have been an inspiration in my own artmaking for over a decade.

So, I was thrilled yesterday to finally see Werner Herzog’s 3D documentary film Cave of Forgotten Dreams. It was as amazing and awe-inspiring as I had expected it to be from the many reviews I had read. I have previously seen gorgeous photos of the paintings in Chauvet Cave in books and on France’s Culture Commission’s online site, but seeing this film just blew me away. These early humans of so long ago were incredibly skilled artists.

The 3D glasses bothered me a little at first especially in scenes with a lot of movement, but it did not take long to adjust. They really did enhance the experience of the caves’ architecture and how the paintings of the various animals flowed with depth and movement along the curving walls. The discussions by Werner Herzog and the scientists were informative and enjoyable and made me wish I had been able to record some of them. If this film ever comes out as a DVD, I want it!

There are numerous great reviews of the film and articles about Chauvet to be found online. I suggest this interview of Herzog in Archaeology magazine as well as the pages of Bradshaw Foundation. I love these words about the film:

….glide through the cathedral-like cave, over cave formations and sloping passageways, across the beautiful 32,000 year old drawings. These scenes are interspersed by interviews with scientists musing on the cave’s mysterious beauty, the evolution of creativity and the nature of humanity. Operatic, gorgeously accomplished and truly unforgettable: this is an extraordinary glimpse at, perhaps, the dawn of art itself.

forces of nature


I’ve been struggling to put words together, more than is usual even for me, about the horrific events in Japan, all that devastation caused not just by a powerful earthquake in a country that has them so frequently but the even more destructive tsunami that followed, then the nuclear explosions and meltdowns that seem to be continuing and is so worrying for all of us around the world.

Our past several days have been focused on the news coming over the internet and television, a long phone chat with an older Japanese-Canadian friend living in Ontario, and a call and email from our eldest daughter wondering about some of her friends in Japan where she’d been an exchange student and about an exchange student who stayed with us several months long ago. We have many Japanese friends here in Vancouver that we are thinking of and wondering how their families back in Japan are doing. Knowing these people is making the tragedy even more profoundly felt. There are always earthquakes and tragedies around the world, and we feel sorrow for all the people that are hurt, but this one seems to have even more of an impact on us this weekend because of some of those personal connnections, I suppose.

And we cannot forget that the west coast of Canada is also in a powerful earthquake zone. How prepared are we?

Yesterday, Sunday evening, we turned on the TV to something else, the film Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie on CBC. Please read Erika’s blog post about this profoundly moving and powerful film that we recommend highly and found curiously and disturbingly timely right now. The film covers Dr. Suzuki’s own history as a Japanese-Canadian child sent to an internment camp during the second World War, his experiences with racism, learning about Hiroshima, then becoming a scientist and eventually the ‘godfather of environmentalism in Canada’, all interspersed with his Legacy lecture, which reminds us how much human interference has created a huge problem on the natural world. The film has been out in theatres for a while and is still being shown here and there. If you can pick up CBC TV where you are, it will be aired again on April 3rd. Lots of film clips at the CBC link to explore as well, and there is the book too, all these to celebrate Suzuki’s upcoming 75th birthday.

We went to bed last night with sore hearts for our friends and worries for the future of this planet and our children, while trying to hold close David Suzuki’s words of hope.

Steam of Life – a film


All weekend, our thoughts and conversations seemed to be mostly about saunas, Finnish saunas of all kinds, and Finnish men in saunas, all because of seeing a memorable and moving documentary film that drew on the full gamut of emotions from laughter to tears. Steam of Life was presented by DOXA at the Kay Meek Centre in West Vancouver this past Friday evening.

Finnish men don’t usually open up about much, it’s generally thought, as they don’t like to speak about feelings. But in the sauna, it’s different. Intimacies are revealed in its soft steam, by men who sit there quietly and give voice to the sorrows of their lives.

In Miesten vuoro / Steam of Life, a full-length documentary film by two directors, Joonas Berghäll and Mika Hotakainen which premiered in March 2010, Finnish men both talk and weep. – The Naked Truth, Books from Finland.

Steam of Life was selected as the Finnish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Academy Awards, but did not make the final shortlist. It is the first documentary to represent Finland at the Awards, according to wikipedia. (Check that site for links.)

Personally, I was very moved by just hearing the Finnish language itself (now that I rarely hear it) and seeing some familiar and beautiful scenes of the country, and of course the whole culture of the sauna, especially followed by swims in the lake when possible. The genuine deep emotions expressed by the men to each other in the quietness of the sauna were a revelation and sometimes moved all three of us (husband, youngest daughter and I) to near tears.

After the film, the DOXA folks set up a Skype video chat with Mika Hotakainen, one of the directors. He appeared on the big screen at 6:30 am Finland time, and though sleepy-eyed, he cheerfully and with infectious charm answered many interesting questions from the audience. One was about how the camera fared in the heat of the sauna: the camera had to be warmed for about an hour and a half along with the heating of the sauna (up to 180 F!) and the use of the zoom lens had to be avoided!

All the characters in the film are non-actors and spoke of real events and feelings in their lives. The shooting of each scene was usually done just once to maintain the authenticity of a documentary. The filming was done all over Finland and even Lapland. One lady asked (in Finnish, yay!) about what strange language was spoken in a certain scene – it was Saame.

It was acknowledged by the director and many in the audience that taking the sauna can be a spiritual experience. We really enjoyed this part of the program as much as we enjoyed the film.

We highly recommend seeing this if you get the opportunity, or get the DVD (not sure if it’s available in North America yet). It’s certainly been widely shown and highly acclaimed. Here is a good trailer at the official Finnish website, though only in Finnish. And here’s a local review by Katherine Monk for The Vancouver Sun (link since expired and removed).

Finally, you may be interested in my popular post about saunas from a few years ago. The photo above is a reposting from that article. Oh, and by the way, sauna is pronounced sow-nah, I’m a bit picky about that.