The new blog – May 1st 2023

It is not going eaxctly as I had planned – to write blogs at regular intervals. Too much time goes by in between chapters, so I almost never know where to start the next one. Maybe it shall be where I left off last time – in November 2022. So here comes our “spring” blog despite the fact that the snow is falling at the moment and we have had about 70 cm of snow in the last few days. And there’s more to come…

We actually had experienced few days of spring weather shortly before. High sun and double-digit plus temperatures with solar bathing on the terrace. And finally, you could see the soil and the colours. And the colours is exactly what I miss most after a long winter. We got running water in the pipelines system already in the beginning of April. This is a record and 3 weeks earlier than previous years. It’s a luxury you shouldn’t take for granted.

One highlight since our last blog is definitely our trip to Paris. When we lived in Copenhagen, we travelled to Paris every year in November to see the photo fair Paris Photo. Due to our tight economy it has simply not been possible to travel there in recent years, so it was an incredibly nice reunion with former tradition. And it’s impossible to describe how much I had missed seeing a lot of photographic art and other exhibitions as well as eating macarones ad libitum.

Of course, we had the dogs with us, and they attracted so much attention that we sometimes felt like celebrities. Wherever we went we were photographed. It was many times that we were filmed and taken pictures of by several people at once. It was overwhelming, but also just the fact that it has become a culture and completely acceptable to film everything and everyone completely without asking for permission first. We were also found on a major Parisian Instagram profile promoting the city. Not even they asked for permission. It was fun enough, except that I was revealed to have been inside the cake shop to buy cakes once again;-).

It was also a bit of a fun experience. One of the young street souvenirs sellers (those guys walking around selling “Eiffel Tower” souvenirs) came towards us and asked if our dogs were expensive. Of course, Orest promptly replied that they weren’t, adding that they are even so cheap that you can almost get them for free, and that they are also incredibly difficult to handle with. Without further communication and with disappointed face he turned and went his way. But you just got some thoughts that you could have got in troubles. Fortunately, no one stole ours dogs, but someone did steal one of our cell phones.

During our stay we met a couple who lived in the middle of Paris and who had a niece for our white dog  Zarwoe. We also met a couple from Mexico who had followed the dogs for a long time on Instagram. It was super nice to meet people in real life and we spent some memorable hours together.

The winter has been long and we have been challenged mentally in different ways. It has been particularly difficult for Orest to recognize that we have not had the opportunity to move forward – another winter in the house without running water and electricity. It was not the plan that we should live so primitively for several years. Even with a business that has never gone in “negative” but instead it has doubled every year, we are still completely left to ourselves without any form of safety network. We cannot take a loan from the bank, even though we do not owe a single Swedish krone. And a relatively little loan could make our income from guesthouse rental significantly higher because the season can be extended with some small renovations of facilities in the house. 

There have also been many positive things during the winter, but the slow progress is demotivating because you feel you are “treading the water” and something as simple as running water can be only seen to become a reality in the long perspective. Admittedly we do not have a “well-developed” business talent, so despite all the many positive things, it is still a very long and tough move for us.

But in mid-February we finally got our solar panels and batteries which had been missing in the post for 4 months (!). And it has elevated our off-grid home and workplace to a totally new level. It provides power so we can work without need to turn on the fuel generator to use a few photo lamps for example. And you have ordinary indoors lighting that provides a better light to work in than the petroleum lamps do. So, there is also a huge progress on this side.

What I have also used the wintertime for is the preparations for my upcoming art exhibition, which opens on 17th of May at Viborg Kunsthal in Denmark. It is an exhibition that has been a long time on its way and it will be my first exhibition in Denmark for several years. I’m excited and nervous, but I’m really looking forward to it. I am so grateful to have received a large grant from a Danish foundation, which has enabled the exhibition to be carried out exactly as I had dreamed of. There was a time when I had received quite a few rejections from foundations, and I began to doubt whether I could complete the exhibition at all. But now we are soon on our way to Denmark. The exhibition is called “JAGT” (“a Hunt”) and it is the result of a collaboration with the Swedish artist Anette Abrahamsson and the Norwegian artist Stine Kvam. I will show 8 new photographic works as well as 3 sculptures. This is the first time I am showing sculptural works.

Unlike previous projects, in this exhibition I have worked with our senses. Something that I have taken to my heart during the time we have lived here. I am obsessed by our desire as modern humans to have control and power over nature. I am fascinated by the instinctive reaction that occurs in us humans when we encounter a predator. A primal instinct that can make experienced hunters’ hands to shake uncontrolled when they meet a predator in the wilderness. When we humans are faced with a predator, we are confronted with our denial that a predator can take a human life and that we are also animals in that perspective, – a part of an ecosystem and thus also part of the “food chain”. I am confronted with this physical anxiety in my present daily life when I walk in the forest in one of the most bear-rich regions in Sweden. It is fascinating how the body instinctively reacts to sounds and how the adrenaline, alertness and senses are constantly activated. The artworks for the exhibition must therefore be seen as a form of self-portrait.

The sculptures are made of wool, and it has been a huge work. I had to trade the raw wool with family portraits I made. “Raw wool” means dung-dirty and smelly semi-wet wool with various faeces in it. And when it was really cold in the garage, I had to clean the wool off various residues and grass indoors in the living room…. Then it had to be washed and rinsed several times. Dried and then dyed. Being lazy, I have never put on sale a big old-fashioned outdoor washing tub, but it was a meaning and luck because it was the perfect solution to heat up the water in the 100-litre tub out in the garden for colouring the wool. But cleaning, washing, and colouring was not the biggest job. The slowest work was the wool carding. Carding of wool amount which can fill a blue IKEA bag takes about 30 hours. And it is very hard on my hands. But now it is ready to be installed and it has been an interesting physical process. We are traveling to Denmark on the 8th of May.

Since November we have also had a number of jobs for the Danish company Langkilde og Søn. It is always a privilege to work for them and we have done several photoshoots and small films in the area around our property. It has been super fun and at some moments a bit too cold. For example, we made a setup of the New Year’s table in the middle of the lake and among the birch trees. They will be shown in the autumn, but you just get a little sneak peek here. We are happy for our collaboration. Langkilde & Søn sends their products up here, we create setups with products and then film and photograph them. Such collaborations are of great value for us as we have the spectacular surroundings that can form the framework for unique set-ups. The biggest disadvantage of this collaboration is that they make such beautiful products that they are always difficult to send back after shooting sessions ;-).  You can see much more on their website

Our “little” puppy Azzo has grown up. Not to misunderstand here that he has become an “adult”, but he is doing incredibly well. I had feared that he would run on the ice and go on “adventures” on his own in the area, but he stayed on the property all winter until a month ago. Then he learned that it was a possibility. I guess that “somehow” he thought that there was still a lake around the property as he learned it from summer and autumn periods. But one day he realised that he can “walk” on ice, so he ran away two times and was gone for 30-45 minutes each time. Of course, it doesn’t work that way, so until the ice is totally gone, we have restricted his “freedom”. He can be free in the garden if we are there. But he is a happy dog with lots of healthy energy and has grown perfectly so far. Fortunately, he is not so obsessed with food anymore, but he was blamed for lack of food from the hallway (our temporary “fridge” in wintertime) for couple of times.  And it was a mistake – because we found out that the real thief was a white ermine who has moved into the garage just before the winter start, so now all doors are properly closed…

November 2022

Wow – it is already long ago since I wrote last blog! Do you remember when it was? That was in May and now we already have November. I feel guilty, but the reason for that is that we have been so busy all the summer. Yes – until now. And that is, in many ways, a good sign.

Where shall I begin from? Perhaps with the herb garden, because it has been as neglected as the blog.

I usually pre-plant vegetables indoors already from the end of April. Probably to say “usually” is not correct, because I have only done it the previous two years. It couldn’t be done this year, as we had got an exciting job in Uppsala, where we had to be away from home for a whole week in May month.

A week alone at home would be both too cold and of course everything would have dried out. The house can only be heated with the wood-burning stove, so it would easily be minus degrees inside the house. Instead of pre-sprouting, I sowed fast-growing vegetables. The salad turned out to be fine, the kale grew no more than 5 cm in height except for a single plant which was eaten by a deer, the radishes grew wildly. At least they were huge on the top, but the roots were microscopic, stringy, and bitter. The carrots again were planted too close to each other this year because I forgot to make more space between them, the strawberry bushes were eaten by animals except for two plants and the new plants from last year didn’t really produce any berries. The spring onions didn’t get thicker than a blade of grass, the beans withered and finally the peas, which became a success, but they weren’t big enough when we traveled to Denmark and when we were back home 2 weeks later there was a night frost and that was it. In addition, there have been many mice in the soil around plants and the dogs were hunting the mice, so you can perhaps imagine what our vegetables area looked alike.

When I mention the dogs, most of you have already seen that our family has expanded. In May, we picked up Azzo when he was 12 weeks old. He is from a Swedish breeder who lives no more than 300 km from us. It was not in the plans at all that we should have another dog. Not at that moment anyway. I had a lot of contact with Azzos’s breeder in connection with the dog we took care of at the end of winter. When we were on the way to hand over that dog in Stockholm, we drove by the breeder, who at that time had puppies. Not just puppies, but with a pedigree I found extremely interesting and puppies in the colors I had been interested in for a long time. We had fun with the puppies, and I told that we shouldn’t have a puppy and the financial situation was not that good that we could afford a puppy, but I said on the way out of the door: “Let me know if there will be someone interested in Azzo”. A week later the breeder wrote that someone from USA would like to have him and then I realized quite quickly that she shouldn’t have him. I got some money back in taxes and a small job running the Instagram profile for the Danish company Langkilde og Søn, so I scraped the money together. And then he has become an ambassador together with his siblings for Essential foods and Non-stop Dogwear, so we have no bigger expenses for food and equipment with his arrival in our family.

In addition, we changed insurance company from the extremely expensive “Agria” to “Folksam”, so it ended up being the same price for three dogs as we had for two. That was the practical side of the story.

Azzo is a beautiful one and he has a wonderful temperament and then he steals food completely unrestrained. In return, it has taught us to tidy up and keep the cupboards closed. But once it went wrong. In an unguarded moment, he ate 300 grams of walnuts mixed with onions. Fortunately, it happened while we were on holiday in Denmark and the vet was a few kilometers away. He was given a medicine making him throw up, and then he was otherwise ready to eat again… He thrives very well with the others and especially he and Láska play together an incredible amount of time. 

Of course, it has been a bit of a challenge to bring a puppy along to our shooting pojects. We had him for 10 days and then we had to drive to Uppsala for one week project. He managed the trip incredibly well. A lot of driving and waiting in the car. It was mostly me who had to work so that Orest could be with the dogs. I had to photograph fences. It sounds a bit special, but I learned that there are an incredible number of types of fences, skates, and gates as well as motorized gates. Horse fences, wild boar fences, industrial fences, etc. The pictures are to be used for a website that Orest is going to make.

Just two weeks later we were going to Swedish region Dalsland and worked on creating cisual content for their annual tourist magazine. With a Láska in heat, a puppy, and a male dog… I am deeply grateful that our partners at Visit Dalsland are the most dog-friendly people. This year, it was mostly photography content they needed so Orest could take care of the dogs again. He only had to make a few aerial video captions. It’s always great to work for them and you get so many wonderful and fun experiences home. Looking forward to seeing next year’s magazine.

The next project in our calendar was at home, but to be honest it was a project, where we had a full responsibility for. We had to create two commercials and photography content for the Scottish company Ooni, which produces pizza ovens. It was an absolutely cool project, where we were both responsible for creating the stories, filming and editing.

To be more precise – Orest was responsible for that part. We developed the story together and we had a freedom to act. We selected a team of 6 persons from the local community which consisted of 5 actors and a cook who also became a director’s assistant. The client became happy with the products, and it will be published in their products campaign next year around midsummer. Unfortunately, I cannot show you the films here, but you must be allowed to see a single photo. Possibly we will make films for them again this winter – at least they are keen to hear about our ideas based on our lifestyle. We hope it will result in new collaboration. 

In addition to these three projects, we spent time on preparing firewood, painting the neighbor’s house in exchange for a wilderness bath (hot tub), running our rental house and meeting interesting guests, working on my exhibition at “Viborg Kunsthal” in May month next year. And when we traveled to Denmark at the end of August we really hadn’t had a single weekend off since May.

We were in Denmark for 2 weeks. The first 10 days we stayed at one summer house in Gilleleje, which my friend and her husband generously lent us. The most beautiful summer house with a view over the sea. It was the ultimate luxury, and we are eternally grateful for that experience. It was a much-needed vacation break and it was a great time meeting with our good friends. The last 4 days we stayed at another location where we had to film and photograph for our regular partners Langkilde and Søn.

It was also a part of working together with them that I spent 10 days in Vietnam. They have a long term collaboration (for over 20 years) with one sewing production company in the country. A big contrast from life in Hanoi to life in the wilderness, but a wonderful trip in the lovely company.

On the work front, it has been a really good year – soon we will have to look at the annual accountings and our income as well as expenses has increased from last year. This means we can invest in a better solar panels system so the studio will function much better. It will let us to run the computer uninterrupted, the lamps can run and other technology we use in our work can work with no lack of electricity during the process as it has been the case so far. It will be a huge “workflow” improvement.

Of course, it has not been unconditionally positive, although many positive things have happened since the last blog. The war in Ukraine looms like a heavy shadow and every morning the news is the first thing on one’s mind. The whole Orest’s family is living in western Ukraine, which is considered as more stable part of the country. The family members have no plans to flee, but they have air raids every day and they never know what the future looks like. Will Russia bomb and fully destroy the energy infrastructure leaving civilians without electricity and indoors heating? Will there be water? Will they be alive?

It is difficult, especially for Orest, to navigate from a distance and to control the anger he has against the regime in Russia and difficult to find a place to place with the anxiety about the future.

And I was refused an art project support for the exhibition at Viborg Art hall, which has really hurt my project work. It is a super important exhibition for me, and the rejection makes me lose a bit of courage and for some moments doubt whether it can be carried out. Other moments I look at it more positively, but if I don’t get support from other foundations, the cost of the artworks will have to be reduced significantly and that will negatively affect the final products, as well as I won’t be able to show as many works as I have planned.

But I never give up and, in my world, anything can work out. Including this exhibition. I am happy and excited about it will become reality. 

I don’t know if I dare to promise that it won’t be half a year before the next blog, but I know Orest has a topic about the forest industry that he wants to write about.

Also I must admit that our Sunday-nice-in-clothes evenings have been a little bit neglected due to constant work and puppy, but they must be resumed as soon as possible.

Winter Hibernation 2022

It was not meant that you had to wait that long for a follow-up on the previous post. In fact, it should have already been written and posted in January. I also can’t say exactly what the time has gone with. We’ve been asking ourselves what we’ve really been so busy with through all winter, but there’s not really an unequivocal answer, but it felt like we were pretty busy. I will tell you a little about it, but first and as promised, I will tell about the end of the trial in the court with Härjeåns Nät AB company. And I promise, this will be the last time we mention this case.

Those of you, who have followed from the beginning, know that we have been fighting against the local electricity provider and monopoly carrier, Härjeåns Nät AB,  for almost 3 years. Or, more correctly, – it was the Swedish Energy Markets Inspectorate Authority (EI) has run the cases for us in the diverse court institutions. The case ended up in the highest court, where the energy company finally lost it. So they have lost 3 out of 3 trials. The price was confirmed to that amount that Orest had calculated from the beginning – namely SEK 67,000 against the company’s price of SEK 450,000. It seems more like it’s a ”business model” and local “know how”, than a “calculation error”. ” If it goes, then it goes”. They lied through the whole process, – they always came up with confronting explanations and so on. First things couldn’t be done by technical reasons – then it could anyway be done (if we paid more), etc. We were literally shocked by their foolish and childish explanations, which basically meant lack of intelligence and respect for residents. ’’

But during these years, while we have been waiting for a decision, we’ve used to living in “off grid” conditions. There has also been a huge technological development of alternative energy suppliers and “off grid” systems, so we have decided to go in that direction. Also considering the uncertainty that currently is present on the energy market with higher prices as well as our lack of confidence in such provider as Härjeåns Nät AB with no moral and no competitors in the area. The price for connection to the electric grid including everything ( burying of wires, VAT, installation for the house itself ) will be about SEK 150,000 and for the same amount you can get an efficient system with batteries and solar cells. And then you have no cost of electricity for approx. 9 months a year. The darkest 3 months the batteries must be charged with a generator, but it will still be more cost-efficient solution in the longer perspective. 

What were we actually doing all the winter months ? I will start with December, when we were 3 weeks in Denmark. Both to celebrate Christmas but also to work. We stayed most of the time with my aunt in North Jutland. Or more correctly – we borrowed her neighbor’s house so that we had plenty of space and peace of mind. It was tremendously nice to swap environments for a period of time, – nice to have electricity and running waterand all other civilized facilities. And then we were treated so well by Aunt Hanne. It could hardly be more luxurious and privileged. We also spent Christmas with the family, which we haven’t done the previous 3 Christmases, so it was great not just being the two of us and the dogs. A scenario we could well imagine doing again next year. Now I don’t know if my aunt reads along and agrees with that decision 😉

One of the things we worked on at Christmas time was our company’s new website. It took a little longer than planned and some obstacles raised along the way. If you are curious, you can visit the Big Lake Media website. It is only in Danish and Swedish so apologies to our international readers. We think it has become good. We’ve also spent time doing an advertising campaign and we contacted some companies we’d love to work with. We hope there will be a positive response because we still need more projects and new collaborations. But we are also proud that for the second year in a row with a completely new start-up company, we have a result that went in plus. Not with the very large amount, but there has also been possibility to make some investments in the company.

We have also been on a number of shorter trips to regions Vesterbotten and Lapland. I sold one of my artworks ”Floating tourist III” to the new psychiatric hospital in Umeå. You can see it and my other works on my website.  And as part of the trip, we reviewed a dog-friendly hotel for Rhonda’s Choice in the city of Umeå. It is an interesting initiative and concept, that has a mission to gather reviews of dog friendly hotels around the world. The hotels are judged by how suitable they are for dogs and how well both dogs and their owners feel welcome at the place. These are hotels in the exclusive category, but it is a great idea and we are very proud to be able to contribute to it. We have also been in Stockholm for some days on the same mission.

Another trip to Lapland was because we should pick up a dog at one shelter for dogs. A sad case in which 13 dogs had been removed from the “breeder” due to repeated cases of dogs mistreat. 8 of the dogs were Borzoi as ours and one of them was the aunt (Aunt Vasja of 8 years) to our white male dog Zarwoe. Vasja’s original breeder in Estonia, where she was born and lived for the first 4 months of her life, wanted her back so shecould give her a safe and stable life for the  rest of her days. Because the dog didn’t have the necessary vaccinations, including rabies, which had to be at least 21 days old for being valid, the breeder could not take Vasja directly to Estonia. That’s why we offered that she could stay with us for that period. And it went beyond all expectations. She was sweet and easy and quickly got used to our place and both Zarwoe and Láska were incredibly happy for her. Láska actually became so upset when Vasja had to leave, that she didn’t really want to eat for 3 days. This is in light of the fact that Láska has never left as much as a single crumb in her bowl for her entire life. But Vasja had to go home and we know she will have a good retirement life where she is now. We get frequently images from her daily life.

However, it won’t last for a long time for our dogs to be only two – in 3 weeks a little puppy will join them. Azzo is his name and he is a borzoi like the others. It was, on the one hand, a quick decision, but on the other hand, also something we had been talking about for a long time. I actually would liked to have had two dogs more that were relatively close to each other age-wise, but only when Zarwoe and Láska should have become a few years older. But I also realized that 4 dogs would be too much. Not in everyday life but when we have to travel around and visit family and friends and when we have to take them to work. After all, we have no one to look after them so they follow us everywhere. For most people it would be a little too overwhelming to get a visit by us with 4 large dogs. They might think same about 3 dogs 😉 So if we were only going to have 3 we wouldn’t have to wait too long. Partly because the other two still are young enough so they want to play and that’s important since we live so isolated and can’t make playdates with other puppy owners every other day. We must socialize the new puppy as best as we can, even though we know it can be a challenge. But fortunately, summer is just around the corner and we get many guests who have rented our guesthouse and most of them will bring their dogs with. And many of the guests are “returning guests” so we know they have kind dogs.

By the way, there are still few weeks left free for reservations in our guest house as we have recently received a cancellation in June. You can read more about our guesthouse on website

This winter has been relatively warm. At least significantly warmer than last year. And there hasn’t been a lot of snow either, which made Orest feel quite happy. It is always a concern whether the old tractor can keep running,  when the snow has to be plowed. 

Sure, we have had lots of worries during this winter. But nothing will compare with the worries about the Russian war in Ukraine and how it will affect the rest of Europe and the world. When the war started, we were almost paralyzed for 2 weeks, constantly reading news. We checked news also at night – we both woke up every hour, so after 2 weeks we were really exhausted. It was especially hard for Orest to accept not being able to help from distance and we realized that we had to try to live our own lives as normal as it was possible. Perhaps not all of you know that Orest is from Ukraine and his mother and his brother with family live in the western part of the country. They have chosen to stay, but no one can predict how things will develop. It is relatively quiet in their region, but every day having to deal with air alarms is the psychological pressure by itself. Some of our friends have offered help and we and the family are deeply grateful for that – it gave a feeling of peace and hope and a hint of security in all the uncertainty. Thank you and you know who you are. 

Now we are waiting for the snow has melted and the colors will appear in the nature around us. While I’m sitting and writing now there is a stormoutside. Always at this time of year I am so incredibly tired of snow and I really need to see the grass again. But we don’t have to wait that much longer because in a month our surroundings will be an colorful explosion of vegetation.

And in 2 weeks we will have a small puppy that willguaranteed spread joy. 

Spring 2021

Spring has come again and we enjoy that the snow is starting to melt and that days are longer than nights. The earth and the colors appear from under the snow. I miss very much the colors when we come to this time of year and everything has been white for a very-very long time. It is the absence of colors that I think is the biggest challenge for me. Not the cold or the short days, but the absence of the colors. I can feel completely euphoric when I see the first spot of soil and grass.

Another strong sign of spring is when the Sami people move their reindeers down from the mountains to their calving areas. This is one of my favorite moments. Seeing hundreds of reindeers cross the frozen lake in one large herd.

In April, the cranes also arrive and so do the great singing swans. April is also the month where, the bears wake up from their winter hibernation. They have youngsters with and there is no vegetable food for them to find, so we definitely need to be more careful when we move in the forest. I can feel the body is a little more on alert when you hear a sound from the forest. The dogs must be on a leash unless the area has been examined.

And to our great joy, small buds have appeared in the three birch trees we planted in the autumn. I had never thought so, because we had destroyed most of the big roots when we dug them up. But it gets so nice when leaves will appear. The birch trees usually spring out in late May here.

Even though I come from a gardening family, I do not have “green fingers” and growing my own vegetables is for me a learning process. Last year I made the mistake of sowing my vegetables way too late. Because the summer is so short, you have to sow plants indoors before getting the germinated vegetables in the ground when there are no more night frost forecasts. It is usually not before June. This year I have propagated much earlier and hope to get a little bigger vegetables when we reach August. The leeks and beets were miniature vegetables last year, while the kale and lettuce grew fine and large. It is unusually delicious with fresh vegetables when you can’t expect to find fresh vegetables in local stores. This year I have sown beets, lots of kale, leeks, lettuce, horse beans and artichokes (which may have been sown too late though). The carrots are planted out directly in the ground and so do the potatoes. Of course, we also need herbs like parsley, rosemary and chives.

If it is a success, it will never be known whether the range will be expanded next year. I would like to try my luck with cabbage too.

Spring has also brought Covid-19 here. So far we have been living distant to the virus that has affected the whole world and we have lived as if the world has not changed at all. It was a bit of an eye opener and one suddenly became aware of one’s and others’ actions. Fortunately, there were only two small outbreaks and no serious illnesses.

Since I work as a substitute at the small school in the neighboring village, I had a daily contact with people during that period.

I have been lucky enough to get a small temporary job at the local school, where I do a little bit of everything- cooking in the kitchen, working in the kindergarten and at the after-school center, teaching visual arts and little cleaning. It is super cozy and there are only 14 children divided between school students and kindergarten children. It also provides some security on the economic front after a slightly harsh fall and winter periods.

We have also had a couple of really exciting assignments. Orest has made a film for the fishing association’s website. You can see it here below and visit their website on .

We have made pictures and small videos of the Nordic countries’ flags for the Danish company Langkilde & Søn. Now there is not a single flagpole in the whole area we have not noticed or borrowed. We have to make new flag pictures in the summer country, so it is a task we are very much looking forward to work with.

We have also started with a little spring-cleaning in the garden. We have felled quite a few trees again this year. Even though we felled about 100 small trees last year, there is still a need to thin out a bit so that the remaining ones can grow larger. And in a few weeks, the snow will hopefully melt so much that we can burn twigs and branches and other wood waste.

When the heat comes we also get running water back in the house. It is a luxury that one learns to appreciate very much living this lifestyle. We look forward to the summer and to meeting the guests who already have booked our guesthouse. If you have considered visiting us, there are still weeks available and Orest has created a website where you can read more about what we can offer to our guests.

And then we have another good news to share. Our first financial result in our little company Big Lake have gone in plus. Not much, but still with a profit. This is very good as it is the company’s first year. But before we got there, the whole that financial accounting could cost us our marriage. We did not really have a system, no experience in the “art of accounting” in a new for us taxation system and unknown Swedish words. But it was like it was sent from heaven, we came in contact with someone who has a “cottage” some distance from us. She is an accountant, and she has simply helped us so much – both with reporting VAT and tax. We would not have been able to do it without her help and we had no money to hire an accounting service on market. 

Enjoy the last month of spring. May is the month of silence here – no snowmobiles, as the ice is too unsafe to cross the lake to our side, no boats and no cars on our side of lake. It’s not because there are many cars passing by on the gravel road close to us, but it is so quiet here and you only hear the birds. We have a bird that sounds like a computer game. This year I have to find out which bird it is.

A cold time

Hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas and has come well into the New Year. Of course we follow the news, so we know that many had been affected by restrictions and probably could not be with all those they wanted. I had actually planned to write a “Merry Christmas” blog, but time passed fast. Even up here, where time sometimes seems to stand still, it can also suddenly pass by. We had a nice Christmas, even though it was just two of us – and the dogs of course.

It was our 3rd Christmas where it was just we and I have to admit I was missing being back in Denmark. However, it passed quickly when you read about the Corona situation, because it was anyway forbidden to meet with all your friends and family. Hope it is possible to come to Denmark in the spring. Now we’ll see.

But we were not alone all Christmas. Already on the 28th of December we had a visit. It felt almost like home, because it was my friend from Denmark (who has lived in Stockholm for 12 years) and her husband and their son. They were here until after New Year and it was simply so cozy with visit from good friends. Our “neighbor”, who has a little hut 4 km from us, was also here for New Year’s Eve, so we were exactly the 6 people as it was limited by the Covid-19 restrictions. The New Year night here is completely different to what we used to and it’s utterly silent here – no rockets, no party noises – just silence in the moonlight. Our friends had some nice big Thai lamps – they flew to sky with a small flame in. It was so beautiful and peaceful. A New Year’s Eve we will not forget.

Otis spent some time in December getting our website ready so we can rent the house out for the summer. I hope you have all visited the website. Some of you might like to come up here for a summer vacation. In any case, there are still weeks available during the summer. We will soon post it on the larger rental portals, so we think we will get many bookings. The website’s address is:

Right now it is only in English, but the plan is that we will also have it translated to Swedish. No one has any idea what the Covid-19 situation will look like, so we have to focus on the Swedish market this year. We must not repeat the same mistake as last summer, when almost all foreign bookings went in the sink.

Until January 3rd, the winter had been astonishingly warm and we have largely had running water until then, with a few exceptions where we had to shut down temporarily. With the 4th of January the real frosts came and we have pretty much had between -20 and -30 degrees Celsius ever since. Some few moments it was cloudy and we had little warmer temperatures. There is an interesting phenomenon, which in English is called inversion and which is very obvious to observe here where we live. This means that the higher you get up in the mountains, the warmer it gets. And it is not uncommon that the difference can be up to 15-20 degrees. The cold air sinks into the valleys (we live in a valley) and pushes the warm air up. Therefore, we must always put around 10 degrees down off the weather forecast temperatures.

Such a cold is harsh in our supply of firewood. It should not keep freezing so hard, because then the supply of firewood will run out before we reach the spring. The cold also meant that it was finally over with having running water indoors, so now we are back on the lake with buckets and a water pump. It’s hard physical training, and this year we have no snowmobile to drive the water up to the house, so we go back and forth with the buckets. And walking in deep snow will make you feel it as a harder work. And many buckets are needed for our week’s water consumption. It also makes you very economical with water usage. The used dishwashing water is used, for example, to flush down the toilet. You really get certainty about how big a consumption we had when we lived in Copenhagen. Flushed down the toilet after every little visit, bathed at least once a day, washed clothes without it being really dirty and generally poured many liters of excess water directly into the sewer. The same thing has happened to us after we started sorting waste and composting. We have become so amazed that you can sort so much waste for recycling that you do not really need to have a waste container service. Paper / cardboard and plastic make up 60% of total waste, compost – 35% and the remaining 5% are bottles and cans. We take these things to the recycling station containers in the village. We have actually terminated the waste collection service provided by the municipal company. A scheme, that anyway did not work as they promised. They would not pick it up at our property as they had promised when we booked the service, but they wanted us to drive a smelly trash can in our car 4 km to our neighbor’s house. Some may remember the story of the lack of sludge emptying. It’s the same company. A completely hopeless and unreliable company, if any should be in doubt about our opinion.

This summer, Otis built a sauna in a small annex in the garden, where we previously had an outdoor bio toilet. It was an absolutely amazing and meaningful decision. We use it a couple of times a week to get properly warmed up and take a “shower”. It is absolutely wonderful that you get completely warmed up while there is severe frost outside. It is not that big, so it can reach 80-90 degrees in an hour even if it freezes -30 degrees outside. And going out and rolling in the snow and afterwards back into the heat feels like the best therapy for the body. All muscles get relaxed. This is the way people has bathed in these regions for generations.

This January, I have also been working on a fantastic assignment. I have photographed a Christmas collection for one Danish company. It has been exciting to play with setups and staging out in the snow. I am still not quite done with the task and Otis will also have to edit some small films, which will show the “behind the scenes”. I hope for more of these types of tasks in the future. When we moved up here, I had ATBO (a Danish furniture design company) as a customer, where they wanted original photographs of wood and nature. In any case, there is always a guarantee of real snow up to 6 months a year.

The day has already become over an hour longer and the sun has risen higher in the sky. Each day lasts an average of 5 minutes longer. It’s half an hour a week so it feels almost completely “visible”, every single day.

Denmark – Sweden 1-1

I am often asked about the difference between Swedes and Danes, so here I will try to describe a few of the differences I have experienced. Hope I do not offend anyone 😉


The first one I actually heard from another person in the area, but this must be included, because it is so precisely describes the culture. At least it refers to the local area. When people meet to discuss a real problem, then people start finding all the positive things about the problem so that in the end there is no problem at all. Isn’t this smart?


Swedes NEVER come late to a meeting. Better to arrive 5 minutes early. So don’t count on that you have the “academic quarter” of being late so you can use time to change clothes or set up the table.


Recently I attended an online art portfolio presentation meeting hosted by Networking North. 25 artists from all over the northern Sweden were selected to meet a number of art curators from around the world for a personal 30 minute talk about your artworks. This by itself can be fairly anxiety-raising event, so the organizers were incredibly pedagogical and said to us something like this: “We had a meeting with the curators yesterday and they are really sweet and they are really looking forward to talking to you. You must not be nervous”. If it was in Denmark, it would have sounded something like this: “You have 30 minutes each, so make sure you get maximum out of the meeting and you must do your very best, because you will not get this chance again.” I know which model I prefer and it is not the last one of the listed above.


The Swedes are incredibly bad at answering on e-mails. You go and wonder whether the e-mail may have ended up in the spam filter. After a week, you are convinced that this is the case and then you send a new e-mail with request to hear if it has not been received before. And then the answer is that it has been received. So far so good.


The Swedes are incredibly afraid of conflict. People don’t discuss. So if you come up with criticism because something is not working optimally and you mean that the things can be improved (that’s why you want to discuss it), then you are met by the remarkable silence. And as a Dane, a criticism is an introduction to a dialogue about the problem so that it can be solved at the end. And in opposite – there is NO ONE who would say that you have done or said something wrong, but you slowly begin to understand it, because you are simply being ignored. And when you ask directly “What’s wrong? “, then the answer with 100% certainty is: “Nothing”, but there is no doubt that you have “stepped on someone’s feet” . In my perspective, when you are not told what you are doing wrong, you do not have any chance to defend or explain yourself. This fake politeness I have a bit hard to deal with.


But in return, I love that the Swedes keep what they promise. The Danes can promise a lot and when it does not happen and you ask: “ Hey, have you not promised to help with that?” , then you can expect the usual reaction: “Shit, I forgot it! Can’t it be next week instead? ” And here it’s clear –  that it never be done.


Here in the area I have never heard a Danish standard reply: “I have only 5 minutes…” People take the time what it takes and you feel how the stress level drops. I love the Swedes for that.

Now I hope no one has been harmed here, but you may agree that it becomes more clear to understand, when you come with exaggeration in the examples.

Hard Times

It’s been a long time since I’ve written and the winter has already arrived. The days go by and time is filled with many small things, but I do not think we get done as much as we would like. We are in a period where things are not going as smoothly as we had hoped for and we are sometimes left in doubt about what the future will bring us and whether we have been too naive.

One reality is that our last appeal to the highest Nature and Environment Court has been rejected, and if they have not been “killed” by Covid-19 economic consequences, the Swiss owners of the island nearby now have full permission to build a luxury hotel just in front of our property.

It will destroy our dream of creating an artist refuge, because the completely unique natural silence will become a noise hell and the notion of living in harmony with nature is spoiled by tourist groups’ selection of entertainment activities depending on the season. Our drinking water from the lake will be undrinkable while such a large construction is underway. But almost worst of all is that all authorities try to downplay the scope of the construction to “just 6 small cabins for overnight stays”, knowing that the 6 cabins make up only approx. 25% of the total size of the complex. You feel powerless and we live in one of the absolute finest areas in Sweden. This is where you experience authentic life and an untouched nature. It’s obvious for many that ecotourism is the future here and then the authorities sell out of nature to foreign capital that wants luxury and entertainment facilities. It is an avalanche that can be difficult to stop. I have never experienced a municipality is ignoring local people that way like this little Bergs municipality does. One feels completely incapacitated. Right now I’m so frustrated as I have not been for a long time.

Next, – at the moment we are challenged financially like we have never been before. It’s really hard to get customers in the area where everything goes from “mouth to mouth”. And of course we do not have a large network. And I had expected the sale of my art works, which most likely will not turn into anything anyway. It was a large art piece for “Dansk Metal”, but suddenly the person with the decisive voice became in doubt and wanted more time and asked their art consultant to find something else for comparison. I have not yet received an official “no”, but what started out as a formality now hangs in a very thin thread. Another case, the regional hospital services have been interested in buying two of my art works, but the person who was responsible for the purchase has been reported sick for long period and what should have been in place by appointments in August has been postponed with no deadline in the future. It was these two sales we could have lived on for 8 months, so right now the financial part is a reason we don’t sleep well at night. Only hope is on a miracle.

In addition, due to Covid-19  we lost 90% of our guests who were interested in renting the house this summer and the few those from Sweden who had booked a stay, they cancelled it at the last minute, so we did not have the opportunity to find replacements. It was a lesson to us that in the future it would be a good idea to charge a deposit. In general, we were too late to catch on the Swedish tourists who were on holiday in their home country exactly because of Covid-19. Maybe everything is just a little bit “black” at the moment – and it is literally how it is physically. The days are short and we live in the glow of the candle. We have moved into the rental house to live there during the winter months. That was not the plan, but it works better. We live, sleep and cook in the same room so there is less space to heat up and here are a few lamps that run on three old batteries we have. However, there is not much sun but then the batteries can be charged with the generator when we work on the computer so we have light for approx. 30 minutes of usage. The batteries are old, but we do not even have money for new ones. And here in this house we have a toilet with a temperature that is not around freezing point as in the old house. Yes – we used a cupboard in the toilet as a fridge in the old house last winter…

It all does not have to be understood as we are about to give up even though it looks a bit “black” and it is by far the most difficult period we have had in many years. But In fact, our small company is doing quiet well, taking in consideration that we are completely new to another country and without any help, but the challenge is that we only have the company to live on. We cannot receive unemployment benefits or supplementary public support. I could not bring my unemployment benefits to Sweden, nor could I be transferred to a Swedish unemployment insurance fund without first having had a full-time job for a year. So we have nothing of any safety network like everyone else has.

And the never-ending story with Härjeåns Nät AB energy company and provider of electricity has received a decision after the appealed case and it has once again ended positively for us. However, the decision was that the price should be the one we got in the first offer – 116,000 SEK against the 450,000 SEK which energy company wanted. But the case is not over yet because the Energy Market Inspection has chosen to appeal the Linköping Court’s decision, so the story continues.

But here it’s a bit of some positive updtaes – I have been selected as one of 25 visual artists in the whole northern Sweden to show my art works to some selected curators from around the world. The renowned Bildmuseet in Umeå organizes an event. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m also pretty nervous – I have been living a very long time in my own little universe.

Winter is upon us and we are waiting for the lake to freeze to ice and we will once again experience one of the most magical natural moments found here. This is the sound when the water is turning to ice. The sound is so violent, beautiful, and mysterious and would excite everyone to experience it just once in their life.

One year with our home Green Footprint

Hello and “what’s up?” . Orest is here and I have got the opportunity to write the next chapter of our story. So the writing style will be a little bit different from what you are used to. 

The summer 2020 is officially a history and it’s already one year since we got our new home the green footprint. It remembers clearly how excited we were when we received a bunch of keys to numerous facilities in the property. So many things to try and learn, and so many things to be changed ! So many ideas! 

No doubt, we are still very excited about our new home and many ide@s have become more clear for us. But realisation of them takes time. Longer than one year. Much longer than I expected. 

In this chapter I wanna cover some of those main projects we managed to do during this summer and, of course, tell about expectations, which have to wait . 


Distance between th firewood depot and storage place in the house

Story about our firewood didn’t end up in the last chapter. After we were finished with cutting and chopping 20 cubic meters of wood it had to be stored outside to have possibility to dry as much as possible it should be moved inside of one of the storage buildings. And the main storage room has a volume for approx 12-14 cubic meters of firewood. So Lykke motivated herself properly and carried most of the firewood with help of little wheel trailer and did it 140 times covering 70 meters each way. That took time… rest of the firewood she placed close to another little building and it was a shorter way for transportation.

We actually can’t say how long time the whole project  “firewood “ took us from the beginning to the “final product “, but we really hope that we have enough of firewood for the cold period of the year.

Grass .

It’s a huge difference between 70 sq meters in Copenhagen apartment and 20.000 sq meters of land and two houses on it. A lot of place to care about… and the most of the land is a nice grassy field. And of course it’s so pleasant to watch on a freshly mowed grassy area. We have a tractor and a grass mower to it. It sounds straight forward, isn’t it? But it takes time… first I had to learn how to safely operate that machine, and after that  it takes around 5 hours to mow the most of grass . And afterwards I collect the whole grass manually and move it to a dedicated to it place in the forest on our property. Spending 1-2 hours each day it takes me around 10-14 days to remove whole grass away… maybe it’s a waist of time, but it looks so beautiful afterwords! And it’s a natural physical training on fresh air. “Natural gym”. 

Compost and the waste issue in general 

We did tell before about the missing municipal service with emptying our waste container on our property. In the beginning the municipality said it was possible for the service truck to drive to us, but at the end we received a message that the truck can’t make last 4 kilometres to our place. So we wanted to find a solution for us. We evaluated in details our waste we produce living here and we started to separate different kinds of waste and sort it into groups. 20 km from us there is a public depot – a place where you can deliver recycled waste . There are categories of common paper, packing paper, glass, cans , plastic and used batteries. Sorting in that way reduced our waste , but still we had a lot of organic waste. And of course you straight think about composting. We know nothing about it, so we tried to read about it and about those plastic compost containers you can find on the market. But they are quite expensive. And then we had an idea : “ why not to build our own compost container from that wood we have and why shall we buy the plastic one?” . So we built it, and now we hope that the exciting composting process will start before the organic waste will freeze in the winter. 

A food cellar

Entrance to our food cellar was totally destroyed last winter due to probably permafrost, which moved walls together and it was no passage down to the cellar. Thanks our friend’s help we managed to move the stones in the walls on their original place and now we can use our cellar again. It’s very practical and it keeps temperatures around 4-7 degrees inside the cellar year around and the humid air in there keeps vegetables fresh for a long time. Just think – it is cool to have a huge environmentally friendly “walk in” refrigerator . Smart thing .

Something what I personally had issues with this summer, was expectations. Especially those expectations that weren’t realised this summer , because they obviously require more time. And these expectations about making our everyday living more comfortable. 


Electricity. As you know, our property is not connected to a local network and we live “off grid”. We have diesel and gasoline generators to produce electricity for various purposes.

We have told about the unpleasant case with a local energy company, which owns electricity network grid and which has a monopoly on the distribution of electricity to customers. They have abused their monopoly and have cheated us several times with the price they want to charge us for connecting to their network. Although the Swedish Energy Market Inspectorate, the authority that controls fair prices on the energy market, agreed with us and confirmed that the price for connection must not exceed approx. 80,000 Swedish kroner (against the company’s “offer” 450,000 kroner!), the energy company Härjeåns Nät AB appealed the decision in a court, so the case is further delayed. And, if the court wants to give the right to the Energy Market Inspectorate, then the electricity company has countless opportunities to delay and not connect our property to their network. It may take several years. So we explore alternatives. And as we said earlier, we are very excited about the idea of ​​establishing an “off grid” system, consisting of solar cell systems, battery storage and a “backup” petrol generator for the winter months when solar cell system will not produce enough electricity due to lack of sun light. I have spent a lot of time finding a solution – there are ideas, but most require more products from different manufacturers. And none of them could guarantee that the system will live up to our wishes 100%. Now I have found and established contact with a Danish company that works on designing and developing “hybrid generators” for industrial use, but they were enthusiastic about our new lifestyle and property and they promised to come with a proposal and of course they have to calculate the price for the possible solution.


As we mentioned earlier, our two houses have a primitive water system, which works ok in summer period, but all pipes can be destroyed by Frost in winter and in the period when you have constant minus degrees outdoors. This is a problem and the entire water supply system needs to be redesigned so that we have running water in pipelines all year round. A well must be drilled and pipelines must be laid and frost-proved. This is not so much about smart solutions, but about money that must be paid to carry out the work.

So the problem of expectations is very much related to the last two projects, which were not realized due to lack of money. We have tried to reach out to several banks and other institutions, but they cannot loan us the money needed to improve our standard of living. We do not have a stable income during this  period when we are in the process of establishing ourselves as self-employed, so we have to get ready for the new season with a lack of water and a small petrol generator, which we hope can give us light and electricity in the winter. And Winter is on its way.

Summer has reached The Green Footprint

Finally the snow is disappeared. One month later than usually. And the snow came even earlier this winter than it used to. So we had snow from late October to mid-May, and for us it was a great pleasure to see the grass again. There is still plenty of snow in the mountains. We have had so much snow this year that they expect the flood of water from the mountains to the lake to hit the record of year 1995. The snow is the rainfalls in our region so the warmer the winter is the more snow we get.

As soon as the snow disappeared we spent a lot of time and efforts working in the garden. Our garden is almost 2 acres, so although we don’t exactly have many flowerbeds, here is really a lot to do. Shrubs that grow as weeds and invade the grassland. They need to be removed and the thickest sawed over. We have several times made large fires for burning branches and twigs from the removed trees.

Moved on giant rocks that were on the bottom of the lake on our boat’s way from boathouse. The lake’s water level is controlled and lowered due to a dam 8 km from where we live, so we had to hurry to remove rocks before the water would rise again with spring flood of melting snow. The water rises quickly and on a hot day the water can rise by up to 30 cm. There are 4 meters between the highest and the lowest levels. Work is underway to restore the lake’s level permanent as it was before the dam was built. Furthermore, it will have a positive impact on wildlife in and around the lake and the ice in the spring will be much less dangerous and the dangerous cracks will be avoided.

The big project for spring and summer for me is growing vegetables. As a child, my family was very close to being self-sufficient, but unfortunately I have not been taught so much about the knowledge of growing vegetables. In short, I am a beginner and have had to ask the experienced people for advice. It is also different what can grow here and what can grow in Denmark. The summer here is really short. I started by growing the seeds indoors and then later planting the sprouts when the night froze is not an issue anymore.

I have built boxes with high edges. They are not straight and crooked but I am convinced they can make my vegetables grow.

I have sown beetroot, kale, carrots and leeks. And a lot of salad. “If you can’t make the salad grow, it’s bad,” they said in the plant shop … What a performance-enhancing comment but it was said with sweet optimism. And I have got cuttings for strawberries, which I cross all fingers for we will taste this year.

Then we’ve come to the potato chapter. They have almost caused a marital crisis. Orest, which grew up in Ukraine, where most of people in the cities had utility gardens at the times he was teen. Every year, his mother forced him to help with the cultivation of potatoes. As a teenager, he remembers nothing more embarrassing than being met on the street dragging 10 kilos of potatoes… Next was the location of the small potato field. It was suddenly impossible to find a space of 3×3 meters in our garden with the size of a smaller park. It should be mentioned that potatoes must be grown near the water edge; otherwise they will have difficulty growing. These are wise words from local people. They actually grew potatoes on the small-uninhabited islands in the old days.

Something about the ground is being warmer near the water. We finally found a location when I stubbornly refused to give up my potato project. But it was tough. It was done by hand and an old plow originally used with horses. We tightened the tractor to it instead. And just as potatoes were planted in the ground we are told that the cranes love potatoes, so we had to better hurry to have an installation made to scare them away. Then Santa cloths came into play, with the shiny wig. Think he does his job well – I haven’t seen the cranes … yet.

But what a pleasure to enjoy the warm weather has come. Our canoes and boat have been launched into the water for the first time. We have white nights these days. This means we have light all day round for the next two months. There is something magical about these days. You get so much energy from the light. Paddling on mirror calm water surface on a late night or early morning is, for me, the most calming and relaxing I can do. We have always paddled a lot on holidays and it has simply become a sacred ritual and one of life’s best moments.

We use the motorboat when we go to the village to pick up our post. It is definitely the fastest way to sail across the lake. And the dogs love to join us in  the boat.

Before it becomes too romantic storytelling I get presented here, it must also be mentioned that the mosquitoes are crazy here…. It is always exciting, whether it is a mosquito year or a moderate mosquito year. So far it has been more acceptable, but we have also couple of ideas about mosquitos. Among others we think that we have far fewer mosquitoes here than when we lived in the rented house in the village.

The beech sprouted on June 1 and here it has grown green with record speed. And if you have not yet planned a summer vacation, we still have available periods in our rental house.

Our First Meeting

I know many have wondered about the choice of the domain name on our blog. Why “”? Petros is the name of a mountain in the Ukrainian mountain range Carpathians, where we met for over 18 years ago. In this blog I will talk about how we met at a train station in the small mountain town of Rakhiv.

Hiking somewhere in the mountains

In 2002, I was on my fourth year at the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, and I was interested in places that were neither city nor countryside. Places where nature has taken over humanity and created its own order. Therefore, I wanted to photograph Chernobyl and the city of Pripjat in the closed radioactive zone.

Chernobyl. 2002

It was the time when no tourists were in Ukraine and virtually no one had visited Chernobyl. I got permission to visit the area as a “Red Cross Employee”. It meant that I could move freely around alone and photograph wherever I wanted.

It was not where Orest and I met. After I photographed, I would travel with my cousin who was traveling with me, around in the country and hike in the Carpathians – a mountain range extending from the Slovakia, through Ukraine and to Romania. It was in these mountains that we met for 18 years ago.


My cousin and I had ended up in a very small mountain village and were what you call it “lost in translations”. No one could speak English or German and even no Spanish and everything was written in Cyrillic letters. In short, we couldn’t even spell a city name or ask a single person for help. In fact, we couldn’t figure out how to get from there until we saw two young guys with mountain bikes and backpacks at train station. We actually thought for a moment that we weren’t the only tourists in that town. One of these two young men was supposed to be Orest. He spoke fluent English and helped us with tickets. He was from a larger city and regional center, and we had an 8-hour stay the following day in his city. He offered to pick us up at the train station and show us around the city, because it was Ukraine’s Independence Day; a holiday where everyone is free and where there was music and partying in the streets.

Jasper, BC, Canada. 2012

We had some nice hours together that day in August. We said goodbye and promised we should keep in touch. And as it is so often the case with journeys, “now” during traveling is transformed into everyday life when you are back home, and what felt like a most obvious thing at the moment, it’s been pushed into the background of everyday life fairly quickly. The days went by, and I never said thank for all the help we received. But fortunately, after 3 months, Orest wrote us to hear if we had a safe travel back home. Then we started writing letters to each other. My cousin and I agreed with Orest that we should hike together in Carpathians for Easter the following year. Then 10 months after the first meeting, we met again. It was a fantastic and very authentic hike we got together. Orest had been hiking in the mountains alone since he was 16, and knew some very beautiful areas as well as abandoned sheep shepherds cabins we could overnight at.

Armenia. 2009

No, there was no romance in the air yet, but it was on that trip I started to fall in love. However, it was not completely mutual 😉 Before we left home, we had agreed that we should meet again already in the summer. We wanted to climb Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus. But since Elbrus is located 80 km from Grozny in Chechnya, which was a dangerous place at that time because of local war, the Danish Embassy strongly advised us not to travel there. If something were to happen to us, they would not be able to help us, as the situation was unstable in that region. When I was young I lived in Nicaragua, and I had sworn never to travel to a war-torn country again. So unfortunately we had to cancel that trip. Instead, we invited Orest to Denmark on a bicycle trip through the Jutland region, but he was so determined to climb that mountain in the Caucasus so he declined our invitation nicely.

Bornholm, Denmark. 2017

It was a destiny, but the alpine club, who was organizing Elbrus trip, had to cancel that adventure. I don’t remember the reason, but that made Orest to come to Denmark and we had a great cycling holiday. It was on this trip that we started dating.

Skåne, Sweden.

We spent the next year traveling back and forth. It was mostly me who had to travel to Ukraine, because it was a huge bureaucratic issue to get a visa to Denmark, which had introduced Europe’s most stringent visa and entry requirements from non-EU countries at that time. After one year’s long-distance relationship, Orest chose to move to Denmark. I still had a year left to study and living in Ukraine would be very cumbersome. Partly because of the language and partly that the salaries were so low that it would not even cover the payback fees on my student loans.

We got married on October 15, 2004.

Copenhagen Cityhall. 2004
Copenhagen Cityhall. 2004

It was a fun and quite disorganized wedding. The law required us to be married if Orest were to apply for a residence permit in Denmark. We had 3 weeks to arrange a wedding. Finding a place for the party, inviting guests and with a budget that could barely cover an Easter lunch for 3 people. But it succeeded in a rather alternative way. We went to the forest to pick up leaves and branches for party decorations. I found a dress in a secondhand shop. I had a student job in the Copenhagen Culture and Music House, where I could rent the most beautiful room for almost no money (as employees you were offered great deals). We wished no gifts, but instead we asked everyone to bring meals and food for the party. And it was a wonderful wedding and many of our friends are artists, so there was played and sung and improvised! Unfortunately, Orest’s family was unable to attend the wedding because of the visa rules, so when we were married for 5 years we celebrated it with a “5 years party” in the small mountain town in Ukraine, where we first met. There were both Danish friends and Orest’s Ukrainian family and friends. Despite language difficulties, it was the most funny party! People were already dancing after the entree, and so the evening continued until the bright morning – and the musicians were fueled with plenty of vodka.

Rakchiv. Ukraine. 2009
Rakchiv, Ukraine. 2009
Rakchiv, Ukraine. 2009

That was the story of how we met.We share some pictures with you from our wedding and our travels and life in Denmark.

Nepal. 2010
Wadi Ru desert, Jordan. 2017
Anapurna. Nepal. 2010

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