Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Fun Photography

My last post was about our visit to Kalmar and the island of Öland.  In Kalmar, there was a special exhibit at Kalmar Castle by Swedish photographer, Erik Johansson, that I felt deserved a post all of its own.  It was so amazing that we went back to see it the next day too.  Couldn't get enough of his surreal photography.  It's hard to explain.  Everything in his photos is real but he manipulates them with Adobe Photoshop to alter them to present his creative ideas.  The photos are real . . . but they are not reality.  

Following are a few photos of his photos.  I had so many favorites that it was hard to pick just a few.  Google for Erik Johansson and you will find lots of information and more photos and even videos of how he does his work.  Be sure to click on the pictures to enlarge so you can see the little details that make it so interesting.  And also be absolutely sure to watch the video at the end where Erik talks about his photography.  So interesting!

This photo is titled Self-Supporting.  Reminds us of the many arches we see in Old World architecture.  Interesting that the "keystone" holds the arch up.  Without it, everything would fall.  I like to think that the keystone here is a church.  Many people here in Sweden are finding, because of the pandemic, that they have a need for God in their lives.  A 23-year old young man just joined our church who had always believed in God but didn't dare talk to anyone about his belief because Sweden is so anti-religion.  He was so happy to find that there are many people here in Sweden, and in fact, all around the world, who really do believe in God.

The Cover-Up.  We laughed a lot when we saw this photo.  It's a gloomy, cloudy day, so the man is covering up the sky to give us a bright, happy day.  The other man is bringing more rolls of white fabric in a wheelbarrow to continue the cover-up.  On a gloomy day, we should think happy thoughts and imagine that the day is sunny and bright.  Reminds me of a Shari Lewis song we sang with our kids, "Just let a smile be your umbrella on a rainy, rainy day, And if your sweetie cries, just tell her that a smile will always pay.  Whenever skies are grey, don't worry or fret, A smile will bring the sunshine and you'll never get wet!"

Looking for Stars.  Absolutely love this one.  The man is searching in a star-less sky for stars that are right at his feet.  How many times do we look somewhere else for the things that are right around us?  (The sky is absolutely blue; no lights -- those are just reflections of the lights in the room).

Demand and Supply.  Our demands may be our undoing!!

Expectations.  Wow!  So many generations will follow after us.  What legacy will we leave them?

Cut and Fold.  This one blows us away.  Looks so real yet so unreal.  See the video below to see how this photo was made. 

What do YOU see in this photo?  Is that man in the left bottom corner trying to follow a map?  Where will he go?  Up or down?  By the way, this photo is called Under the Corner.

The Architect.  Doesn't this one play with your eyes and your mind?  What is real?  Is he inside or under the house?  So cool!

Falling Asleep.  Have you ever thought what a silly thing it is to say that we "fall asleep?"  Well now you can see for sure, that it is totally silly to fall asleep! 

Above is a very interesting video in which Erik Johansson explains how he makes his unique photographs.  And he has also compiled his photos in two photo books that are available at or called Places Beyond and Imagine.  (And no, he is not paying us to say that!)  He is planning on producing another book of photos soon.

Last of all, we found a room by the exhibition that had a physical installation of one of Erik's photos, Full Moon Service.  Dumb us.  We didn't know that we could climb the ladder and take a picture of us holding the moon, just like in his photos.  In the actual photo (which is not in this post), there are people holding up moons.  So cool.  I guess they are "servicing the moon!"  Wish we would have figured out that we could have been in the picture.  Oh well.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Kalmar Castle and Wide Open Spaces

August and September were hard months.  I had a chest cold that turned into bronchitis, but not covid, thankfully.  I haven't felt so rough in years.  It was interesting to experience the Swedish health care system.  Our mission uses an English-speaking Swedish doctor.  I did a video chat and several email conversations with her and it was really interesting.  She prescribed a strong antibiotic, cough syrup, and a probiotic.  Because we are registered in the country and have personnummers (like social insurance numbers), she was able to send the prescriptions electronically to all apoteks (pharmacies) in Sweden.  Then I could choose the one I wanted to go to and show them my identity card and they filled the prescription.  Pretty cool.

Toward the end of September we took a couple of days off to drive south to Kalmar to see the castle and the wide-open spaces of nearby Öland island. We decided that if we had to live in Sweden for the rest of our lives, we would live on Öland with its wide-open spaces that remind us so much of home.  It was so nice to see the sky from horizon to horizon!  Check out the chocolate sauce eating contest at the end!

We love these old churches!  This one, the Gladhammar Church, is near Linkoping.  It was built in 1883-1886 on the site of a wooden church that was eventually torn down.  We would have liked to see inside but it was closed.  Apparently inside there is a replica of Thorvaldsen's Christus sculpture (the same sculpture that is on Temple Square in Salt Lake City and also in the Rome Temple visitor's center.

The old water tower in Kalmar.  Water towers in Sweden were all made of brick, and of course didn't have windows when they were filled with water.  Very different from water towers in the west.

Kalmar Cathedral was started in 1660 and completed by 1703.  It's made of limestone and brick with copper roofing.

We love the interior of these churches.  So white and bright and light.  And of course the organ pipes are the first thing we look at.

Beautiful interior.  And we were excited to hear the organ actually being played when we entered.  I took a short video so you can hear the organ.  Gorgeous!

Now we're walking toward the Kalmar Castle.  Small remote-control boats were sailing along!  Fun!  Our sons have been into remote-control planes and helicopters.  But we've never seen remote-controlled boats before.

Here's the castle behind me.  Such a bucolic setting!  (Bucolic is a funny word.  Pastoral maybe works better.  When I think of bucolic, I think of colicky babies, but bucolic actually does mean pastoral).

Fun picture!  That's the real Kalmar Castle, not just a picture.  The Kalmar Castle was first built in the 12th century.  It's famous for the 1397 Treaty of Kalmar which formed a union of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (including Finland at the time).

See what I mean?  It's the real thing.

LeRon always finds the farming things.  Here's a grain terminal right across the water from the castle.

The castle and the grain terminal.

Kalmar Castle once guarded Sweden from the Danes.  But now Kalmar is a long way from the Swedish/Danish border.  The borders have changed a lot in the past several hundred years.

Gorgeous ceiling inside the castle.  Our son, Craig, would love these ceilings!  He designed the beautiful ceiling in our music room at home.  It's not quite this intricate but very beautiful.

More ceiling and beautiful woodwork.

Love these 3-D paintings at the top of these high walls.

The king's throne.  Hmn . . . not quite what I would have pictured for a throne.
I'm so grateful for my modern kitchen!  Of course the royalty never had to worry about food; they had servants to take care of their every need.

Our guide explained that this royal bed is about the only original furniture in the castle.  Royalty never stayed long at one time in their different residences and when they left they took all of their furniture with them.  The guide explained that this bed was like an Ikea bed in that it could be easily dismantled for transport.

Note that the nose has been cut off this figurine.  They believed that evil spirits came out of your nose so they cut off the noses of all sculptures so the evil would be gone!

This room is full of original woodwork.  The doors and walls are made of inlaid wood.

Gorgeous inlaid wood door. 

This table is set for Easter dinner, 1586.  It has been reconstructed from a German traveler's diary and includes dishes such as fish pies with eggs mingled with salmon and lemons, rice pudding with walnuts, and chopped pike in the shape of pears.  Bon Appetit!

I think the clothing would be really heavy to wear but it would also keep you warm in these cold castles and in the dark of winter.

We stopped by to visit the missionaries living in Kalmar, Elder LaRose and Elder Knudsen.

They live in the nicest place in the whole mission.  It's an entire house with a big yard including fruit trees and a lawn that needs to be mowed.  How cool is that?

The Öland Bridge between Kalmar and the island of Öland was the longest bridge of its kind in Europe until 1998.  It is 6072 meters long (19,921 ft) which is about 6 km or 3 3/4 miles long.  
So many old wooden windmills on Öland.  Some you can climb into.  Farmers had these windmills on their farms to grind their grain.
LeRon or our sons could tell you how it all works.

These windmills are so interesting.  The same yet different from the ones we've seen near Amsterdam.   So nice that you can still climb into many of them.

Love this view.  You can see the ocean, the Öland bridge, a field of pumpkins and other cropland.  So nice to be able to see the horizon.  We loved it here!  If you click on this picture, you will see the bridge and how it is raised in the middle to let ships pass under it.

This storage built into the hill reminds me of the potato pits we store potatoes in at home.

A stone windmill!  This one is the Karlevi Stone Mill and is one of three stone mills on Öland.  The weather cock on the tops shows the year 1791 but people don't think it's quite that old because these kinds of mills in the Netherlands actually date to the 19th century.

View of the land from the stone mill.  When the current owner and his wife first saw this view, his wife said she had to live here, even if it meant owning a windmill.  She says she loves looking at this view from her kitchen window because every day she sees something different.  The farms in the valley below and the ocean with its shipping give different vistas in each season.

The windmill is a "customs" mill, which means that farmers were welcome to mill their flour there, for a price of course.  

LeRon found everything about the mill intriguing.

This mill is open to the public at no charge.  We had a nice visit with the owner and found that he is a church-going man, which is unusual among Swedes.  He told us that this mill was in use until the mid 1950's (which doesn't seem that long ago to us since we were born in the early 1950's).  It has been restored and even motorized in the past few years and it actually works, or would if the vanes weren't tied down.

Stopped at this field of red beans!

This area is called Stora Alvaret and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.  The chalky rocks and thin soil are protected in the Gynge Alvar and the Mysinge Alvar Nature Reserves.  This habitat exists in only a few places in the world.

Running water must trickle up from underground as we could see no other source.  Loved seeing the horizon!

You can walk for a very long time on the board walk through this nature reserve.  It reminded us a little of The Burren in Ireland, but the Burren was much more desolate.  Apparently here there are flora and fauna found nowhere else, such as the alvar wormwood, which is not a worm at all, but a plant. 

As you can see, windmills really do dot the land.

The Mysinge mound is one of the largest Viking burial mounds on Öland and was built between 1800 and 500 B.C.  According to legend, King Mysing lived here.  Not sure who King Mysing was.
The Gettlinge grave field is Öland's largest Iron Age grave field.  Here is a "stone ship" -- a burial ground with stones marking it in the shape of a ship.

The Iron Age lasted from 1200 B.C. to 500 B.C.  LeRon is touching a very ancient stone!  How cool is that?  If anything is 100 years old in the west, we tear it down!

Nice view of the stone ship burial ground.

Since we've only seen one moose in the wild, we stopped at Grönåsen’s Älgpark (Moose Park) near Kosta.  It's a cute place with farm animals for the children, a picnic area where you can grill your own korv (sausage -- Swedes eat a LOT of korv), and of course a moose park.  We were enthralled with these chickens.  The feathers go all the way down to their feet.  Hard to get a picture because they kept moving.  Google says they are French Marens.

Looks like one very old moose!

Not very cute animals, if you ask me. 

We saw about 10 of the 14 moose that live in this protected park, away from wolves, bears, and hunters, which are their natural predators.

Cute little goats like the kind my sister-in-law, Colleen & Craig Smith, raised in Glenwood, Alberta for many years.

This was a sobering exhibition.  Note that the moose's leg is hitting the driver right in the face.  That is one dead driver.  In Alberta, deer hit many cars each year.  In Sweden, although they have deer also, moose cause most accidents and fatalities.  Somewhere I read that there are almost half a million moose in Sweden.

Don't these missionaries look great?  Missionaries used to always wear suits and ties, but now they can also wear blue or white shirts, with or without ties.  But always suits for church and other meetings.  Here in Sweden, they find they are more approachable in blue shirts without ties.  Hardly anyone wears suits and ties, except for very formal occasions, such as weddings and graduations.  These are the missionaries we work daily with in the office.  Äldste Hancock (my 4th cousin, Äldste Bair (a rancher from Iowa), Äldste Rönndahl (from Sweden with whom we've worked for nearly a year), and Äldste Gilbert (a Swedish/Canadian -- yeah!)

Äldste Hancock and Äldste Gilbert having a chocolate sauce drinking competition.  But we should have warmed it up a bit because it was too thick and they nearly gagged!  But they do love my chocolate sauce (and so do I, except I shouldn't be eating it with my diabetes.)  Melt 50g (or 1/4 cup) butter, remove from heat, stir in 1/4 cup cocoa, stir in 1 can sweetened condensed milk.  Yummy!