A series of powerful storms have been passing through northwestern Skåne for the last two weeks. Torrential rains are often followed by beautiful, dramatic skies like the one above, shot night before last.
Compared with the summer’s prolonged heatwave, the temperature has now dropped to a much more agreeable level, oscillating gently, but never reaching July’s feverish peaks. Today it’s a mere 18C/60F.
There’s no shortage of drama here in Vejbystrand. The day before last, while a powerful summer storm flew through the village, I stepped outside the studio to take a picture of how the gusty winds forcefully bent the bamboo canes and elephant grass.
Just then, at that very moment, the garden’s large Aspen gave in to the strong rush of wind and fell over, nearly landing on top of me. Yeah, it was surreal.
Our local garden and tree expert Östen, believed the thicker of the tree’s sprawling roots had succumbed to some kind of fungus. While the tree itself was fine and looked very healthy, under ground, just below its trunk, there was so much rot that very little was actually holding it upright.
Yesterday, the trunk and branches were cut into manageable pieces and I hauled them off to my compost in the back of the garden and to our firewood shed.
After the initial surprise, a little sadness came over me. I mean, what a shock it must have been for the relatively old Aspen tree. After about 35 years (according to the trunk rings I counted), it just fell over and died. Then again, it might have somehow known it was doomed.
We’ve already started looking at a replacement. Perhaps the next tree to occupy the space will be chestnut or a maple tree.
Continues to feel both humbled and privileged to have such beautiful and varied nature experiences literally around the corner. Although I walk pretty much the same distances over and over again, I still never get tired. Why? Well, because the colors, the light, and the smells are constantly changing. So even though the landscape itself is familiar and adorable, it’s when I observe and appreciate the sometimes small nuances that each walk still feels so unique, exciting, and inspiring.
Met this little fella last night while eating a pizza down by the harbor in Vejbystrand. He lived under the restaurant’s wooden deck and made short, intense trips between his home and the restaurant’s outdoor tables and chairs, looking for scraps of food.
It’s been almost a year since I was abroad and almost two since traveling to Asia or America. Thanks to my archive of film and photos, my memories aren’t fading anytime soon.
The last time I set foot on foreign soil was first in Stuttgart and then in Münich, Germany.
Even if my passport hasn’t been used much since we moved back from Malaga, I’ve still continued to travel domestically to both familiar and a few new places. Some for work, others for pleasure.
While sharing last night’s meal with friends and with the above cute porcupine scurrying around under our table, we spoke of travels near and far. Of Inter Railing across Europe and backpacking throughout East Asia. Of wild adventures, bleached hair, and indulgence bordering on unholy decadence.
At some point between beer one and two, I had an epiphany of how much of the world I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen through work and pleasure. While the size of my pension fund isn’t very impressive, I’ve certainly done my best to fill my time on this planet with a wealth of fabulous experiences. I’ve always been terrible at managing boredom.
A few clips from our brilliant kayaking trip the other day.
Celebrating my 58th year on this wondrous planet today. I suggested to Charlotte the other day that we’d add an activity after the traditional birthday breakfast-in-bed. And since we’ve both always wanted to go kayaking up and down Rönne å, a narrow, winding river lined by gorgeous lush vegetation in Ängelholm, that’s exactly what we did this morning. Amazing way to start any day of the year.
As of this writing, it’s just a couple of hours before a half dozen or so friends arrive for what promises to be an evening with tasty food, drink, and laughter in almost Southern Californian weather.
Quietly celebrating Tyko today on what would have been his 54th birthday.
The echo of emptiness from lost loved ones eventually dwindles, becoming faint and distant with time.
Yes, notwithstanding the level of preparedness, the initial flood of pain inevitably fills our hearts and almost drowns us. But in due course, the ebb arrives and the sadness recedes into a gentle sea of seemingly perpetual, yet overcomable sorrow.
Hesitantly at first, we slowly begin to nourish the memories of lost ones, somehow encouraging their souls to linger secretly in the depths of our hearts, and, conciseness.
Why would we allow remarkable friendships to ever be forgotten?
While the healing process often begins long before the inevitable final act has been revealed, we are left with a deep emotional laceration – collateral damage from life itself – one that we must accept and endure as it is a contribution to the human experience.
At some point in life, the cumulative departure of family, friends, and contemporaries, it begins to dawn upon us; the ephemerality of our existence, the mysterious realm of mortality, and, if we are humbled by our fate and destiny, perhaps even genuine gratitude for the allowance of time we were granted life in a physical form. Of being a being.
Sorrow and emptiness must certainly give way to cherished memories of those who have moved on but quietly continue to fill our lives with inspiration and, ultimately, love. Eternal love.
As much as I like to think of myself as an “Angeleno” gone astray, there is no denying that through my trips this summer, I have become heavily influenced by my Swedish heritage. Right now I feel much more drawn to the quiet, spacious life of rural Sweden than I do to the hustle and bustle of L.A. or, any other urban destination for that matter. However, I know myself well enough to know that I need both environments to feel whole…
I’ve fallen in love with Sweden again. It’s pretty easy to do and for me, it’s much the same romance as every summer.
I’m just as rhapsodic about how beautiful the country is this time of year as I am full of tribulation during the cold and dark winter months.
But right now, everything is forgiven.
I’m really enjoying my short excursions hither and thither. Like yesterday’s pleasant afternoon trip to Norsesund, a tiny hamlet less than an hour outside of Göteborg yesterday (at least as the crow flies).
Always interesting to catch up with my old buddy and namesake Joakim and his wife Gunnel. We ate, chatted and cooled off in a nearby lake before it was time for me to head back to the sweltering apartment on Vidblicksgatan in Göteborg.
I’ve actually been to Norsesund once before. In February. So no big surprise that I didn’t recognize myself after getting off the train.
I love that you only have to travel a short distance from most major Swedish cities in order be seduced by an intense nature experience.
Today it’s time for Grästorp and a visit with Barbro, a friend, and coworker of my late aunt Lillemor and a relatively new friend of mine. I’m writing this on the train bound once again for Trollhättan, a town I’ve got some history in but will gladly pass through today.
I miss the sea.
I’ve been away from the sea for almost 4 weeks now. Mostly in Göteborg. I’m starting to feel claustrophobic, visually saturated, and audibly overwhelmed by the abundance of stimuli that city life throws at you.
Heading out to visit an old friend that lives near a lake today. Brought my swim trunks.
The photo above is from Vejbystrand.
As if I hadn’t had enough family history for a spell, when I got back to Göteborg today, something prompted me to check the date. I knew the 13th was significant somehow. And then I remembered. It was my father’s birthday and since he was born in 1921, so had Ernest Lloyd Raboff been alive, he would have been 100 today.
While an epic failure at parenting, there’s plenty of evidence of his creativity. Interestingly, Ernest’s college buddy and longtime friend, Fred Nicholas, just turned 101 years old. Every time I’m in L.A. I either have lunch or dinner with him. Have to make it out there soon.
The portrait above is from when my father was about to enter World War II as a war correspondent in France and Italy for the Army paper “Stars and Stripes”
Feels like I’ve been on some kind of reconciliation trip. Not that I believe I will ever be able to absolve my mother (or, father, for that matter) from their shitty parenting. But at least I’ve now found a few more missing pieces to my giant family puzzle by visiting childhood places where she must have experienced happiness. This seems to help me offset the fact that I can only remember her expressing anger, sadness, and pessimism.
Of course, I knew there had to have been many, many times throughout my mother’s earliest years when she was joyous, adventurous, and full of unbridled optimism. But now I’ve also seen (and documented) places where I’m certain she played, laughed, and had fun.
I am leaving now, standing on the very same platform my mother stood in the mid-1940s, waiting for a southbound train. An adventure was about to begin. And though it certainly didn’t end well for her, the journey, the adventure, and the courage needed to leave the security and familiarity of small-town life must have been thrilling.
Our society judges, measures, and defines success through the narrow lens of fame and fortune. But for all her shortcomings as a parent, I can’t help but admire my mother for at least trying to follow her rainbow and fulfill her dreams.
After my plans to head up the coast from Göteborg had to be scrapped, I decided to tick off a really old checkbox today by traveling by train to Mellerud and then beyond to the ancient village of Järn where the farmstead my mother and two of her three sisters grew up at during the 1930s.
I’d actually been to my grandparent’s old farm “Moderud” once before. It was sometime in the mid-1970s when the place was in total shambles.
The farm had been abandoned from the time when my grandfather Eskil and grandmother Agnes Andersson had left it and moved south to start a new life in Trollhättan sometime in 1944.
That first visit was with my youngest aunt Lillemor (the only one not to have lived there). We found a pair of tiny children’s shoes among the debris inside the house and I clearly remember thinking that those cute little shoes just might have belonged to my mother (whom at the time, at least in my mind, was anything but cute).
It was Pia and her husband David, the kind folks that own Lindens, the B&B I’m staying at in Mellerud, that offered to take me to the old farm this evening. And just as we arrived, a friendly neighbor showed up and provided some historic context.
I haven’t spent much time on any of my literary projects recently. And while I certainly didn’t jack-up my expectations, that today’s experience was going to be super revelatory, the visit to Moderud did (somewhat surprisingly) have a humbling effect on me. I mean, as picturesque and idyllic as the farm looked today, at some point, I just stood there and tried to imagine what it must have been like to live there in the 1930s and early 1940s. It was definitely no bed of roses, that’s for sure.
Perhaps my mother’s desire to flee Moderud, Mellerud and Sweden was not just innocent post-war wanderlust. Maybe it was life-threatening desperation. Something or someone she urgently needed to distance herself to but could never quite get free from, regardless of how far or deep she fled…
While walking back from a café where I’d been working on selecting images for the new book, I noticed this colorful crew. After a few seconds, I knew that the event had to be, if not internalized then certainly eternalized via the collection of clips you see above. All shot on my nearly three-year-old iPhone.
Shot this intriguing valve or duct in an old repair shop whilst in Gylsboda last week. I’m currently in Göteborg selecting and editing the forthcoming book’s images.
Bought a few ingredients for last night’s crunchy salad at Saluhallen, the old downtown market, just as I did back in the old days when I called Göteborg my hometown.
I don’t feel like I’m a tourist here. More of a familiar visitor with enough history to allow me to navigate between my errands comfortably.
Just picked up my vaccination card at www.covidbevis.se – the Swedish branch of the pan-European effort to certify/authorize those of us that have smart enough to get vaxxed. The rest of you…well, the jury’s still out.
I do feel relieved. However, I was a little worried about the document’s top headline, which reads, “EU Digital COVID Certificate”. With a heading like that, it rather makes it sound as if I can now officially prove that I carry the virus and that I am also a certified superspreader.
From yesterday’s Rock’n’roll shoot at a diabase rock quarry in the northeastern Swedish province of Skåne. With two stationary 4k cameras and one drone, also shooting at 4k, from a filmmaking perspective, this was definitely one of the most complicated three-camera scenes I’ve ever attempted. Interestingly, I was as calm as the two quarrymen that worked there.
I shot this one very early morning a few years back in Malmö. I vividly remember how stressful it was to first position the drone and then allow it to hover 25-30 meters above me while I dove into the sea. A nonetheless interesting technical and creative challenge.
Sembo, the travel agency, and a subsidiary of Stena Line Travel Group AB, recently hired me to produce an inspirational road trip commercial with Lennart in the lead and Charlotte as a supporting actor. We spent a night at a castle and a day shooting in the coastal villages of Rå and Bortashusen. Here’s Sembo’s SoMe page
I’ve admired Joni Mitchell for about 40 years. Her voice, musicianship and storytelling continue to inspire me. Happy to hear that she’s steadily recovering from a 2015 aneurysm.
Though I can appreciate him as an artist, I’ve never been a fan of Dylan. Maybe it’s the voice or Bob’s inability to vocally harmonize with his unique melodies. I realize I’m missing out, but so be it.
I don’t have to choose, but I tend to focus on bands and musicians that I feel best to represent the genre they belong to The Beatles vs the Stones, Led Zeppelin vs Deep Purple, Joni Mitchell vs Bob Dylan.
Joni’s now 50-year-old album Blue isn’t my favorite, but I totally recognize its greatness and there are some incredible tunes on it. My list of her best albums: Court and Spark, Mingus, Night Ride Home, Chalkmark in a Rainstorm, and Turbulent Indigo.
An interesting anecdote about Joni that I heard from someone a long time ago was how rock musicians she played with would get frustrated by her complicated jazz tuning/chords/melodies and jazz musicians would find her pop and rock n roll songs boring to play.
In addition to being a musical virtuoso and lyricist, Joni Mitchell is also an amazing painter. Back in my painting days, in the mid to late 1980s, when I’d converted the tiny kitchen in my small apartment in Göteborg to a miniature art studio, Joni’s music would often keep me company, keep me going.
Here are some of her visual works.