Author Archives: Michael

Love and passion

I have discovered that I need to feel passion to have enough drive. I have a passion for my job and it has become far too important in my self-realization. I have the drive for much else, but when it comes to meeting a dear and really close friend to feel love for, my drive has gradually diminished by the failed attempts. This is a problem I do not want to accept. I’m not giving up. I am learning and have the courage to keep trying.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately and found that I need to feel a sense of trust and closeness. It is not very unique and when you are someone who falls in love as soon as someone seems to like you, you might be lucky and may be able to develop a sustainable relationship, but the chance of success is small. I’ve tried.

Something seems to be missing and if so much else in life gets better with passion, this is of course what has been missed. But what exactly is passion? How can one distinguish a passionate love from an ordinary new love? The feeling of being filled with energy, feeling scared, but at the same time more vital than ever is very reminiscent of an ordinary new love. If you take one step at a time and listen carefully inwards, you may be able to discover if there is passion. If you feel true to yourself when you listen, then maybe there is passion! Just trust, just closeness, or both trust and closeness are not enough. It is the combination of trust, closeness and passion that is required for a lasting love to develop.

That is of course how it is! Now I really do feel hope!

Freely speculated and perhaps far too much thought! Inspired by events in my life and by Einar Wiman at https://www.motivation.se/innehall/hitta-din-sanna-passion/

Quantum satis

There is a concept that is said to only exist in Swedish. The term indicates a satisfactory amount adapted for its purpose, neither too much that destroys nor too little that is not enough to achieve the desired result. I think it is called “quantum satis” in Latin, in Swedish it is called “lagom”. The English translation could be “just right” or “adequate” but the meaning is not quite the same.

Anyway, in love relationships, I’m way too kind and compliant. I have a lot of psychological explanations for this but they are not very helpful, and I’m not getting better at being “just right kind enough”.
Of course, it is a good quality to be kind, but it can be overvalued. Too much kindness can be uncomfortable and unpleasant, but it can also be exploited, depending on the recipient. The risk being you focusing too much on the other person’s needs and ignoring your own, to be a better person and to be liked.

Next time I fall in love, again, I will really try not to be overly kind. I will try to focus more on myself, try to know my own priorities, and try to set reasonable boundaries. Now I have written about it in this blog and it is public. I cannot hide (and just be overly kind)!

Basically good!

This summer I actually read a really thick book! I rarely indulge in reading novels or a thicker book that cannot be read in one go. I have learned that I am worthy of being liked only when I perform or am obedient and compliant. To “just” read and to devote myself to me is frightening! On the other hand, I love to learn and to understand and there is a lot of wisdom written in books.

The book I have read is not really a novel but can probably be classified as a manual in humanity. It assumes that man is good and describes it in a convincing way. It is man’s natural goodness that has made us what we are today. Helpfulness and cohesion have been a prerequisite for our success as a species. For the most part, we work together and feel trust in each other. In meetings with others, we usually experience kindness.

But, how does this go together with all the evil deeds that humans are capable of? Based on a series of crucial historical events and research studies, the book’s author sheds new light on human actions. The notion that man is basically selfish and controlled by self-interest is deeply rooted in our Western tradition of thought. Our societal debate assumes that we are egoistic and only think of ourselves. Our view of ourselves is of crucial importance for how we solve the societal challenges of the future.

It is high time for a new discussion about human nature. The book provides an opportunity to see humanity in a new way. The book is an international bestseller! I read the Swedish translation called “I grunden god“. The author is Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian. The English title is “Humankind: A Hopeful History“.

If you, like me, feel guilty when you are lazy and “only” read a book, I can warmly recommend this book. It really makes a difference to understanding!

Roses of love!

Roses, the flower of love, are perhaps the most popular in the world, and have a given place in my little rowhouse garden. Roses are not only beautiful and fragrant but are surrounded by both romance and mystery. According to Greek mythology, the rose was created by Adonis’ love for Aphrodite, and at his death he is said to have turned into a red rose. The red rose is therefore associated with erotic love.

The best location for roses is sunny, and a healthy soil is the prerequisite for viable roses. If you give your roses love, you get love back. Roses are very beautiful on their bush but also in a bouquet. In the language of flowers, the number of roses in a bouquet has its special meaning. A single rose means “You are my everything”. Three roses; “When can I see you again?” Five – “I do anything for you”. Seven say “I love you”, while ten roses in a bouquet mean “Do you want to marry me?”

To do, or not to do it, yourself!

I came up with the idea to renovate the kitchen in my little townhouse. It did not come suddenly, I have planned it for the twelve years I have lived here. It has felt like a big project, but now it was time. I wanted to treat myself to it. It would be done thoroughly, a complete renovation, floors, ceilings, walls, cabinets and appliances. And I would do almost everything myself. I chose a kitchen from IKEA. It felt best for a self-made carpenter. 

It is actually not difficult to assemble an IKEA kitchen. All that is needed is foresight and careful planning. A kitchen planner helped with ordering and the delivery time was six weeks. The work began with demolishing the old kitchen. It has lived do-it-yourselfers in the townhouse before me. I discovered several more or less clever constructions so in addition to changing floors, I also had to make a new ceiling. But, what the heck, I like to solve problems!

When installing new ceiling joists and filling the joints between the gypsum boards in the ceiling, it would have been good with a little more craftsmanship. It also had not hurt when it was time to put up the tiles. Fortune favors the bold, and I think it actually turned out really well. I needed to draw new water pipes and for the connection, the skill of a plumber was required. An electrician was also required to put together a fully functioning kitchen. Otherwise, I have actually done everything myself, with a little help from my sons. Now only two pieces of cover are missing over the top cabinets and I am proud of the result. That was my purpose in doing the job myself. I reached the goal!

Challenged to post 10 travel photos!

I also live on Facebook! There, my sister challenged me to post 10 travel photos without comments. Of course, I cannot say no, what would it look like, she is my little sister! Such luck that I then have this blog. Here I can publish which pictures I want and comment on them as much as I want. This post’s headline image is from a trip I made to Hälsingland, to a very dear friend’s cozy summer cottage by a small lake. It was a wonderful trip!

The picture above is taken by Tore Huseby. I’m riding a motorcycle on gravel roads on the Algarve coast in Portugal. A wonderfully challenging adventure trip in February four years ago. The nature was very beautiful, the weather was nice and the food and wine tasted fantastic.

The visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp was not as pleasant. I sing in a good church choir and we sometimes travel on choir trips. We traveled to Krakow in Poland and when we were there we took the opportunity to visit the Nazi camp. A very unpleasant but important experience, still!

I have also traveled with the choir to the Cotswolds in England. Although my favorite crime series “Midsomer Murders” is not from the Cotswolds, the feeling in the picturesque villages is the same. I will travel there again even though England is no longer Europe!

I recently had time for another trip to England before Brexit. I assessed applications for postgraduate education for the Wellcome Trust. The picture is from Little Venice, a district in West London, England, around the junction of the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal, the Regent’s Canal, and the entrance to Paddington Basin.

A few years ago, in November, I visited Grisslehamn in northern Roslagen. It is beautiful there even in the autumn. The picture shows the famous artist Albert Engström’s studio on a cliff very close to the sea. He had the house as a studio until his death in 1940 and it has been left untouched since then. It is a building monument since 1975.

My youngest son previously lived in Berlin for a few years. Me and the eldest son once went there to visit. It is not far between Stockholm and Berlin. I actually managed to make two trips there while it was still a divided city!

The motorcycle trip in Portugal gave more flavor and when the tour operator attracted me with a trip to Iceland, I joined. I had never been to Iceland and had heard that it is the nature in the wilderness that is worth the trip. We crossed the island on challenging gravel roads. It was an absolutely amazing trip! There is no point in building bridges over watercourses, so there were many cold, wet passages!

There are many trips to make and you do not have to travel far. I am lucky to live near the Baltic Sea and the Stockholm archipelago. To be able to discover our fantastic archipelago, I have bought my own motorboat. Nowadays, boat trips attract the most! The picture is from Stora Nassa in the outer archipelago.

Oops, there were apparently only nine pictures in this post! You must have a picture credited to my next blog post! 🙂

A healthy walk in a palace environment

My grandmother’s health advice was; eat well, sleep well, and go out and exercise! Grandma was very wise and there is a lot in her advice. If you add to her wisdom the very Swedish expression that “lagom är bäst” (everything in moderation), you avoid extreme training, extreme eating and sleeping away all your life! Outdoor walks can be just the right amount of exercise, but where should you go when you are tired of the nearest neighborhood and boring trees in the forest? 

Just west of Stockholm, in Drottningholm, the King and Queen of Sweden live in a beautiful 17th century palace. Large parts of the palace park are accessible to the public and it is a very nice excursion destination for a healthy walk. The surroundings are beautiful in all seasons. Although our King and Queen, due to the ongoing pandemic, has isolated themselves at Stenhammar Castle in Södermanland further from Stockholm, the Drottningholm Palace is guarded by the Royal High Guard. This day the guard came from the Amfibieregemente 1 (The Marines). 

In Drottningholm’s palace park, you walk through historical style ideals from the 17th century baroque to an English park in the late 18th century. The park has many sculptures. On the quay at the steamboat pier are four statues of Demosthenes, Germanicus, Antinous and Hercules. They seem to be freezing now in the winter with snow on their shoulders and head. 

In the park there is also a Chinese-style pleasure pavilion with an aviary. China Castle, together with the entire palace complex on Drottningholm, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. You can find more on the Drottningholm Palace at: https://www.kungligaslotten.se/english/royal-palaces-and-sites/drottningholm-palace.html

Feel free to visit my website. The WordPress reader does not display my image galleries!

A beautiful day with longing

Of course, it is possible to long for the future but at the same time be present and experience the day. Today was a delightful winter day with snow, sun and clear, cold air. It was great to be outdoors! Down on the boatyard among all the winter-resting boats, the longing for spring grew in me. When I get to make my boat ready and nice for a new season in the Stockholm archipelago. It is nice to both long for spring and to enjoy the winter. It’s nice to feel the longing!

A short city walk

A significant advantage of living near Stockholm, apart from the fact that my loved ones and the job are here, is that when I have had enough of forest and nature, the city is close. The walk yesterday was in the Old Town, Stockholm’s ancient city center dating back to the 13th century, and consisting of medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and archaic architecture. We had a coffee with snacks on the main square, outdoors completely according to the public health authority’s recommendations during the ongoing pandemic. It was a bit cold and rough so the walk was of the shorter kind and no proper photo walk, but still! 🙂

With hope for the future!

Very soon, the year 2020 will end. In many ways, it has been a terrible year. In Sweden, it turns out that new public management and the just-in-time economy have made us very vulnerable to a plague like the Corona pandemic. Hopefully we will learn something from the ordeal that the Covid-19 virus entails. In any case, we did not want to listen to the warnings and we should have understood better. 

With joint efforts, we will pass this torment as well. But the year has not only been miserable. Just before the year started, I fell very much in love even though I had actually given up the opportunity to meet someone who would put up with me. It has turned out that she is crazy enough and has enough humor to accept me and I can see her whims from the bright side. 

It has not been a dance on roses all the time and it probably will not be in the future either. But I feel the security I need to not let my inner fears take over and not listen to all the nonsense that my ego tells me. It’s not bad at all and then I have come a long way. 

You learn as long as you live. Finally, I have learned and may have grown up in love too. So, despite all the misery of the pandemic, my year has been wonderful, and I look forward to the next. In this post, I share various photos from the year that has now come to an end.

Happy New Year! 🙂

Santa Claus is coming to town!

The tradition of sending Christmas cards started in Britain in the 1840s.  The practice of sending Christmas greetings on colored postcards soon spread both to the United States and via Germany and Denmark to Sweden. In Sweden, it became popular to send Christmas cards at the end of the 19th century and the tradition is still very popular. With her very popular Christmas card motifs, the artist Jenny Nyström gave us the image of the Swedish Santa Claus, Christmas presents and a Christmas tree (jultomten, julklappar och julgranen). My sons and I have a tradition of creating our own Christmas card, perhaps a little less traditional or at least with a more modern motif. This year’s Christmas card shows how Santa takes over Stockholm city.

Picture by @adamfored 🙂

Preparations for Jul

Christmas is called “Jul” in the Nordic languages, or “Jól” in Icelandic. The word comes from the ancient Germanic word “jehwla” which is also linked to the Finnish “joulu”. Jul was celebrated as a holiday in Old Norse religion and the Germanic world long before Christianity. In the Nordic countries, the Christian Christmas was named after the pre-Christian holiday. 

https://fored.se/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/IMG_8877-2.mov

In Sweden, the holiday “Lucia” together with Advent marks the beginning of the Christmas celebration. Lucia is celebrated on December 13. Lucia is a saint in the Christian tradition originating in Sicily. The Swedish Lucia is a mixture of both pre-Christian and Christian figures and this tradition has spread to other Nordic countries, and to some extent also outside the Nordic countries. It is a tradition to bake “Lussebullar” for Lucia. Very tasty wheat buns with saffron, raisins and often with almond paste. The pictures are from this year’s traditional baking.

Eventually it gets brighter!

It always does, gets brighter, when it is dark. Right now there are many reasons to see everything in black. Among them the pandemic and the lack of respect for democracy here and there in the world. I choose to believe in the good of humanity and that it will become brighter in time.

Up here in the northern hemisphere, the days are short now. Last weekend the sun shone for a while, enough for a walk along Edsviken to Ulriksdal Castle. We have not yet received snow. It is dark most of the day. But today is the first Sunday in Advent and we turn on the winter lights in our gardens, and candlesticks and Advent stars in the windows. Suddenly it gets brighter. Now it’s only four weeks until Christmas!

An excursion to Björnö

The Björnö (bear island) nature reserve is located at the far end of the Ingarö island in the Värmdö municipality southeast of Stockholm. Here you can walk in typical archipelago nature with an open agricultural landscape interspersed in valleys between forests and cliffs. The area, which is located on a peninsula, is easily accessible even without a boat. Björnö is managed by the Archipelago Foundation and has been protected since 1983.

Here you will find living agricultural land, pine forest, spruce forest, pine bogs, deciduous swamps and deciduous forest. There are several bathing sites and meadows with the possibility of camping. At Småängsuddarna there is a lookout tower with a lovely view over the archipelago and the bay Nämdöfjärden.

Today we had time off from work and school and wanted to make an excursion. The fog was dense over the mainland, but out by the sea the sun was shining. The trip to Björnö was perfect. Can be recommended!

The beauty of insights

There are indeed many wise and kind people on the Internet who share their wisdom. It’s just a matter of finding them in all the information noise and among all the loudmouths. Like when I felt abandoned and unsuccessful because I could not find love but found a wisdom that a friend posted (1). 

* * *

It’s not about finding someone to live with, but finding the one you do not want to live without!

* * *

Many before me have probably understood this. To me, that wisdom made all the difference anyway. It gave me the insight I needed. Today a friend wrote about the meaning of life in her blog on WordPress (2). 

* * *

It is not about finding the meaning of life but about finding the
meaning in life. 

* * *

It may seem a very small difference between “of” and “in” but it really made my thinking about the meaning of life evolve to something else. An absolutely wonderful insight!

The links to my friends’ sites:
1. https://www.terapeutjinder.se/
2. https://walkaboutsweden.wordpress.com/

The pictures in this post were taken the other day in an allotment garden nearby.

Experience the island Fjärdlång

Now that autumn has arrived, it is nice to remember this summer’s boat trips. Among others, we visited the island Fjärdlång in Stockholm’s southern archipelago. The island is first mentioned in 1442 having two farms. From 1533, the farms belonged to the lord of Tyresö castle. During the Russian ravages of 1719, Fjärdlång was hit very hard by burnt-down houses, slaughtered livestock, burnt crops and forests, destroyed boats, sheds and fishing equipment. The population survived by fleeing by sea in a hurry.

The island was bought 1802 by a skipper who became rich during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1909, Fjärdlång was owned by the bank director and art magnate Ernest Thiel. He had a magnificent dwelling house built, the “Thiel villa”, on a cliff with sweeping views of islands and the sea. After his son Tage Thiel took over Fjärdlång, it did not take many years before bad business forced him to sell to the state, and in 1986 a nature reserve was formed. Now the villa is a hostel, with the northern part of the island managed by the Archipelago Foundation.

Fjärdlång has several protected natural harbors, of which Mörkviken on the north side of the island is the largest. There is also a guest harbor at the steamboat pier. Whether you travel with your own boat or go out with an archipelago liner, there are cabins for rent, a camping site and the hostel to stay at, as well as a kiosk and a cafe. Once there, in addition to swimming in the Baltic sea, you can take nature walks over Fjärdlång’s dewy mountains and through pastures with curious sheep and cows.

Archipelago memories from Gällnö.

It is two weeks now since my long Swedish summer vacation ended. In many ways, this summer has been different due to the ongoing pandemic. Longer holiday trips have not been possible, but by boat in the Stockholm archipelago, the holiday has really been wonderful. We visited Gällnö, an island in Stockholm’s central archipelago. Gällnö has been inhabited since the days of King Gustav Vasa in the 16th century. The island was ravaged by Danes in the 17th century, and during the Russian ravages of 1719.

Despite the proximity to Stockholm, a visit to Gällnö is as far from the stress of the big city as you can get. The well-preserved old archipelago buildings remind you of another time. Agriculture is still practiced and in the lush meadows the animals graze freely. The pastures are mixed with forest, cliffs and beaches. For those who want to explore the island properly, there are nice walking and cycling paths.

In the summer, Gällnö is in full swing. Guests come to the hostel from all corners of the world and the bay is filled with leisure boats. Stockholmers come out to their summer houses and the otherwise quiet village is transformed into a small metropolis with a bar, shop and café.

You can sit down to eat a piece of food or just have a glass of wine under the apple trees at the bar and the café offers home-baked bread and freshly roasted coffee. The shop ensures that you can get to Gällnö without having to drag the food from the mainland.

We anchored at Gällnönäs near a friend from Paris but who has lived on the island during the summer and regularly has led outdoor Friskis&Svettis exercise. If you know Swedish, there is a lot of information about Gällnö on the association’s “Gällnö Natur och Kulturstig” website: gallnostigen.se

This year’s crayfish party

The first time crayfish is mentioned in Swedish gastronomy is in a letter from king Erik XIV dated 1562. King Erik grew crayfish in the water-filled moats around Kalmar Castle. Crayfish were not eaten whole and cold as they are today. Kajsa Warg’s cookbook from the 18th century contains old recipes on how to make crayfish cake, crayfish sausages and stewed pans with crayfish tails. The crayfish party (Kräftskivan), as we know it today, was formed during the first decades of the 20th century. Since then, it has increased in popularity, and today it is one of the holidays associated with Swedish identity and Swedishness.

Previously, crayfish fishing was only allowed from the first Wednesday in August, but the fishing ban was lifted in 1994. Most people still choose to start eating crayfish in early August. The ideal August night is warm and tender, just perfect for a traditional crayfish party. All you need is some friends, a heap of freshly boiled crayfish, dill, Västerbotten cheese pie, some beer and schnapps, and funny drinking songs.

The other night we had our crayfish party under the awning on the patio in my townhouse garden. My love, my sons, and me. It was a hilarious and lively party! Now, I’m looking forward to a sour herring party.

A romantic castle

There is so much to experience not too far from home. Yesterday we made a car trip to the town Mariefred some 60 kilometres west of Stockholm. Mariefred means “Peace of Mary” and the city got its name from a former monastery “Pax Mariae” which was the only catholic Carthusian monastery in the Nordic countries, and one of the last established monasteries in Sweden before the Reformation.

The monastery was built on the hill where Mariefred’s church is now located, opposite Gripsholm’s castle. The monastery church was inaugurated in 1504. Above ground, there are no remains from the monastery today. The king Gustav Vasa, who led the Protestant Reformation in Sweden, had the buildings demolished and the brick was used when the Gripsholm castle was built.

On the shores of Lake Mälaren, the Gripsholm castle is towering powerfully and fairytale-like over the idyllic small town of Mariefred. Gripsholm is known as Gustav Vasa’s castle, as it was he who built the castle here in 1537. Since Gustav Vasa, Gripsholm has belonged to the Royal Family and is part of the Crown palaces in Sweden. In 1773, Gripsholm Castle was renovated by King Gustav III. The perhaps most famous addition to the castle during his reign was a theater, which was added in one of the castle towers.

In 1822, the building came to host the National Portrait Gallery which contains a collection of portraits of prominent Swedes from the 1500s to the present. Each year the Gripsholm Society commissions and donates portraits of internationally prominent Swedish citizens to the collection. Many portraits are the work of renown Swedish artists. Now the castle is a museum which is open to the public.

Blueberries of love

Berries taste good. Berries are good for body and soul, both when you eat them and when they are picked. Now is the time when the forest is full of blueberries.

I do not want to claim that I am a persistent berry picker. I’m not a dedicated forest walker either. But still, walking in the woods with good friends to experience nature and to pick the fruits of the forest, it really is a treat for the soul!