Night photography is not something I’ve mastered yet, so please take my word for it when I say that we are enjoying cloudless skies night and day here.

Sunshine and snow make great partners and put a little zip into your step. For some this in an upside šŸ™‚ others are not so excited. For me, I like it when the temperature drops to minus double digits, morning walks start to sound like excursions on top of polystyrene!Ā The sea close to our home is starting to look safely frozen and good for walking on. I’ll put money on people skiing on the frozen sea tomorrow. While the ice fishermen have been out there for a while, I tend to wait until there have been many days of decent freezing weather before I venture out there. At least the dogs will have some decent free roaming time!

This weekĀ the temperature dropped once the cloud cover disappeared. From a balmy -2 (celsius) on Sunday to a brisk -13 (Celsius) tonight (Tuesday, February 7th at 21:15!). While it’s really nice for sledding and skiing, snowman construction at this temperature sucks – the snow is too powdery and no good. At least the natural skating rinks will stay in good shape while it’s so cold!

Instant ice rink - just add water
Instant ice rink – just add water
Night photography attempt # 1 (in a snow storm)
Night photography attempt # 1 (in a snow storm)

 

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Whether it’s a person, a building or an abstract shape, show us something that exists harmoniously with its surroundings.

This is the brief for this week’s photo challenge Graceful.

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Up close and personal

This is could beĀ cow parsleyĀ or giant hogweed – either way it’s dead for winter and the flower heads collect the snow very nicely! Gracefully even….

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A change of perspective

I think I’ve done all right here…

It’s been a while since I’ve been inspired to take part in one of these challenges. Here goes for the Vibrant theme:

Winter turns to spring
Winter turns to spring..

This time of year is fabulous, as the short dark winter days of November and December stretch into shiny spring days. Blue skies,Ā sparkling snow, elongated sunrises and brilliant sunsets add more than a littleĀ zing into everyone’s day.

Weekly Photo Challenge: From above

Winter's last gasp
Winter’s last gasp

Perry loves the snow! His first winter has been like an amusement park for snow lovers: snow just everywhere you look! So good for running in and jumping through; wonderful to eat although not so nutritious šŸ˜‰ ; fun if not frustrating to catch; and of course – rolling in it! His first action walking out the door each morning (after the obligatory ablutions) would be a roll in the snow.

He’d put his head to the ground sideways and then push himself forward and down until his whole body was on the snow. Then would follow a twist’n’shake, left and right, with appropriate sound effects of course! When his urges were satisfied, he’d roll to the left and lurch up, shaking the excess snow away. Those first few seconds up he’s always a little wobbly on his feet.

Spring has arrived in our corner of the woods, and although the leaves are still to come out, all those metres of snow have rapidly melted away. This meant that we had to walk further along our route to find a good snow pile. Sometimes of course, Perry would just roll on the footpath or the nearest bare ground.

This pile has been shrinking over the last week, and while normally I mix up our morning walks, we’ve been visiting this same pile on a daily basis so he can enjoy these last moments! Last Saturday was the last time we were able to roll in the snow, Sunday morning it was raining and the pile had vanished. There wasn’t much left anyway!

Happiness is a roll in the snow!

For more takes on from above check out the challenge here.

Ironically enough…

… today we officially commencedĀ summer time and as many pointed out so gleefully earlier this week: it’s spring! Forgive me if I don’t share your enthusiasm at this point.

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Helsinki Spring 2012

The above was the view at 0930 this morning. The lovely thing about spring snow is that it covers the emerging piles of dog-doo and other debrisĀ that has been buried for three months or more. TheĀ not-so-lovely part of spring snow here in the south of FinlandĀ is thatĀ it is oftenĀ short-lived and melts to dirty slush in a matter of hours.

So, of course here we go with AlanisĀ Morissette and Ironic. I’d totally forgotten how this clip looked. Now, is that ironic or what?!

The sound of silence

I’ve used today’s title often when trying to describe that almost magical quiet that accompanies snow.

You just know, from the instant you waken that it’s been snowing. Heavily. You know that young branches will be bowing under the weight, grass will be struggling to push through, the rowan berries will be lightly dusted and doorways need to be shovelled free.

The best part of the first proper snow is the way that the landscape transforms from dark and gloomy to glowing and light. Street light is bounced back to the stratosphere, rather than being sucked into the murky ground.

Snow-men appear in every yard, and in fact, anywhere that the young and young at heart can roll some snow and through a body together. Snow-angels of every size and proportion grace the yard. Children run with the glee of young puppies, revelling in the powder.

Downside: the first snow always brings some casualties. Cars accidents are highlighted on the 10:00 pm news. Snow ploughs get going and slow the traffic for a while. The salt trucks are not far behind, spreading the first of many layers. On the home front, any car trip requires a little extra time: first to dig out, brush off and de-ice. Then the trip itself… No point rushing when the roads are snowy and icy. That’s a fast track to going off the road!

Personally, I’m glad we have snow. It means I can use the skis that I finally got around to buying šŸ™‚ After 10 years, I now have skis and don’t have to rent ever again. Unless I want to go downhill, and the chances of that are very slim. šŸ™‚

So, what’s your snow story? Love it? Hate it? Don’t see it? See too much of it?

The year that was (2011 in review)

The new year rapidly approaches. We have fireworks (and safety glasses) ready. We travel west this yearĀ to see the new year in with old friends. The menu is planned, the drinksĀ have been organised.Ā Snow would be nice. A little would go a very long way.Ā The forecast is not promising.Ā I may or may not post between today and the 31st. Likelihood of getting another post out of me this year is 50 /50 as Mr. 12 would say. Read on for the year that was…

January: We saw the New Year in onboard a ship sailing over the Atlantic. Once on the other side, we took in a few days in the parks of Orlando. I discovered two things: snorkeling is NOT my thing, scary fast rides are! It was to have been a once in a lifetime trip. However it looks like weā€™ll be repeating the journey. With a few changes. Stay tuned.

February: Plenty of snow in Helsinki. The Engineer escaped to Miami for a work gig while we dug our way outā€¦ Mr. 11 skated and swam through his spare moments.

March: The farmari (station wagon) went to the shop for repair and insurance covered a replacement car. I fell in love immediately! If ever we become a two car family and I get to choose ā€¦ I know exactly what to get. Itā€™s only got three doors. Totally impractical. I WANT!!!!

April: In 2010 weā€™d already taken our Platypus out of storage. Not this year. Easter came and went and still we couldnā€™t get to the sea. Training for my road races started and The Engineer kept himself busy with new servers and storage in the sky. I mean in the clouds. Something, somewhere, just not in this physical world.

May: The Engineer was basking in the Veniceā€™s spring sun, while Mr. 11 and I celebrated May 1st in blustery, windy conditions. We watched Havis Amanda * get her foamy bath and I struggled to get online at the same time. Too many people in the one spot all using 3G. Platypus returned to the sea again. Finally…

June: My first road-race of the year. Seriously hot and sweaty by the end. My time was 15 minutes longer than the previous year. 30 + degrees in the air, 50 + degrees on the road probably had something to do with that. Mum and Dad arrived for their second visit to Finland, just in time for Midsummer **. They took off on a midsummer cruise around the Baltic while we took Platypus to a local guest marina and grilled up a storm. Mr. 11 became Mr. 12.

July: Two weeks in a cottage by the sea. A first for us, and not as bad as I had envisioned. Took some getting used to though, by the end of the second week we had a very nice routine. Sauna and a swim everyday helped. Mr. 12 attended his first concert: Roxette and of course in the spirit of all true concert goers has the t-shirt!

August: I decide that if Iā€™m moving, now is the time. I set in motion something that Iā€™ve been talking about for over a year now. Iā€™ve been thinking about it for many more. Mr. 12 starts 6th grade. The Engineer hits the road again after the summer holiday season draws to a close. We head east for the traditional end of summer party. Location was Kaunissaari (Beautiful Island) where we oohed and aahed to the fireworks. The neighbouring boatā€™s crew decided to party until dawn. I donā€™t mind that, if only theyā€™d play some decent music šŸ˜‰

September: We traveled to Estonia for aĀ weekend away. Coming from Australia, where you need to fly 8 hours just to leave the country, it has always amazed me that a neighbouring country can be so close. Thanks to Schengen rules, thereā€™s no passport control and very little in the way of customs inspections. The annual school sports day has a different approach this year due to the sports ground being renovated. Mr. 12 and his fellow students walk for The Baltic. They get to dress up in a sea / marine theme and raise money at the same time.

October: Platypus comes out of the water for winter storage. We make a long weekend out of the transfer trip, stop one night at a spa, the next night the northern-most guest harbour in ƅland, where again we swim and sauna. Sunday is spent removing anything that could possibly get mouldy, emptying the tanks and general maintenance. Our return to Helsinki is hampered by track works. Our train trip became a bus trip, with The Engineer, Mr. 12 and I all sitting on different rows.

November: MIL has a cockatoo called IppeĀ and for many years weā€™ve commented that his cage sucked. Too small, too crappy. Not a nice place for a cheeky bird to live. This year we went to the pet show with the idea to see what sort of cages are available. A little internet research beforehand gave us an idea of price (big) and quality (strong), along with some hints on just how much space one bird should have. Before we knew it, we were the proud owners of one slightly used cage. (Previous use extended to housing the birds on display at the pet show.) Fast forward to the next weekend, we sprint to Rauma, throw a cage together after washing piece by piece, transfer Ippe to his new home and sprint back to Helsinki for a rare adults only night on the town.

December: Christmas and Christmas parties. The Engineer is either on the road or on the phone. School breaks for a two-week Christmas holiday. Presidential election fever grows. My replacement at work is confirmed and her starting date set. I started blogging. New Years Eve preparations well in hand. Mr. 12 gets to celebrate with old, not so often seen friends. The Engineer gets to celebrate with the same good friends (plus a 50th birthday party earlier in the day). I get to make lots of yummy food, and chaperone Mr. 12 and co. Not that they need so much watchingā€¦ however, teenagers + fireworks has the potential to end badly. Finally I also get to celebrate with all of the above.

On a final note, there are no new years resolutions from me. Been there, done that, didn’t work. Only when I really wanted something did a resolution of mine work. It wasn’t at new year either.

Wishing you a safe and peaceful new year.

* Statue located in Helsinkiā€™s city centre. Traditionally students from one of the universities wash her every May Day and place a white student cap on her head. Much sparkling wine drunk.

** Midsummer is sacred time for Finns. We all leave town and head for the cottage by the lake or the sea. Often the start of oneā€™s annual summer holiday.

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