Last week was Easter break at school. We all took the week off and had a mini-vacation at a farm. I had been longing for greenery and nature, and we also wanted the kids to see farm animals up close.

I grew up in the city but we spent all our summers at my grandmother’s cottage. It was very much a city-dweller’s summer cottage rather than a farm. But one of the neighbours had hens, and there was a sheep pasture nearby, so I got somewhat acquainted with some animals at least.

The farm we visited now, Kullagården, was a proper working farm. Small-scale, not one of those giant places of industrial-scale food production, but still a working farm rather than a hobby. Mostly they grow organic crops (wheat, oats, spelt and beans) but crop farming is pretty boring to look at, especially in April when nothing has been planted yet… But they also had a whole bunch of cows, both for meat and for the manure they produce. There were also horses and ponies, hens, rabbits and goats.

I liked the cows. They turned out to be much more inquisitive and nosy than I had expected. And they were beautifully hairy. The kids found them noisy and stinky and boring, and weren’t even interested in the week-old calves. Too large I guess.

Ingrid enjoyed feeding the hens. Adrian preferred to keep a fence between them and himself. I learned that hens find cheese a treat and prefer it to breadcrumbs. (I guess nobody would normally feed cheese to their chickens – these were leftover scraps from the bed & breakfast end of the farm.)

After some initial shyness, the rabbits were also pleased to be fed. Even Adrian came into the rabbit coop and hand-fed them dandelion leaves.

But the kids’ absolute favourite was the Totte the Shetland pony. They went out riding (on horseback or in a cart) every morning.

When the pony tired, they pulled the cart themselves.

We also took a walk along a nearby creek (Stjärnorpsravinen).

It was a very varied walk with lots to do: there was mud to splash in, fallen trees to climb over and under, bridges to cross, sticks to throw in the water…

The gardening season is here. Or rather, the shovelling season is here.

Last year we dug out the infamous “slope of weeds”, removed the top layer of soil (and thereby also most of the weeds) and lots of stones and boulders. Finally we built a retaining wall.

This year I’m filling it up with fresh soil. I ordered two cubic metres of gardening soil and now spend my evenings shovelling it in place. It sounded like a lot but shovelling soft, loose soil with no stones is immeasurably easier than digging out rocky clay soil. After three evenings I’m about halfway through already. Soon it will be planting time!

In between I shovel cow manure. There are many metres of hedges and numerous bushes that need fertilizer. I’ve spread out 700 litres already and still have a way to go before I’m all done.

Ingrid and Adrian have been keeping me company and doing some shovelling of their own, but mostly they enjoy stomping around in the soft fresh earth on the slope. Adrian is intrigued by this idea of feeding bushes and flowers, and helps me with his little shovel. The fact that we use cow poop makes it extra fun for him.

Adrian now rides a bike. A few weeks ago we brought out Ingrid’s old balance bike for him to try. He loved it from the very first moment, and “got it” almost immediately. At the very beginning he just walked with the bike between his legs. A day or two later he was rolling. Now he’s hooked. He rides it to and from nursery and school; he accompanies me to the supermarket on it; he goes out riding just for fun.

Now he’s so confident on it that he’s experimenting. “Look, I can ride like this!” And “like this” may mean that he keeps pushing with only one foot and holds the other one in the air, or holds both of them up, or goes backwards.

And he’s fast. When he dawdles, looking at stuff we pass, then he gets on about as fast as I walk. When he decides to go fast, I have to run to keep up.

Speaking of riding, Adrian has definitely gotten over much of his fear of animals. When Ingrid’s riding lessons started in January, he was really scared, almost terrified of the horses. I had to hold him almost all the time, and when I didn’t, he cowered in a spot where he could see me but be as far as possible from the horses.

Now, believe it or not, he is OK with riding a pony himself. Earlier this week we spent a few days at a farm, and he rode their Shetland pony (with someone leading it of course). He also sat in a rabbit enclosure and fed them dandelion leaves from his hand.

So while it is kind of inconvenient to have to take him along for Ingrid’s riding lessons each time, it’s been very useful practice for him.

This Thursday he gave up his dummy. For a long time already he had only been using it to fall asleep at night, and I had already been thinking that it’s time to stop. So when we found out his friend Hanna was quitting at Easter, I decided Adrian would do the same.

There is a tradition in Stockholm for kids to give their dummies to the kittens at Skansen, an open air museum. They used to have huge colour co-ordinated garlands of dummies there. Those seemed to be gone now. Instead there is a neat little machine where the kids put in their dummies and press a button and then watch it go through a chute, up a slope on a little wagon, etc., and then in to an enclosure with homeless cats.

Adrian was not bothered at all. When he goes to bed in the evening, he finds it a bit difficult to calm down without the dummy. He tells me it’s “hard to sleep”, and it takes him somewhat longer than usual. But that’s it.


  • Pretending he’s a baby. He likes to play “mummy daddy baby”. But sometimes he also just likes to talk like a baby, or crawl like a baby, or be spoon fed like a baby.
  • Building with Lego. He has very precise stories to tell about seemingly simple constructions. A lump with three longer pieces sticking out is a diving tower with three platforms, one for kids, one for me, one for Eric. Another lump with two long pieces is a flying car. (Not an airplane.)
  • Splashing in puddles.
  • Playing with water while I’m doing the dishes.
  • Reading. When he’s upset or tired, his go-to solution is to ask me to read for him.
  • Making art with glitter glue.
  • Drawing. He no longer makes tangles – now it’s mostly roughly circular shapes, often coloured in, sometimes joined by lines.
  • Sunglasses.

Random fact: He often speaks very loudly for some reason, and both Eric and I keep telling him to please not shout.

It’s Easter this weekend. Ingrid has been talking about Easter for three weeks already. She wants to know what we’ll do and where we’ll be. She talks about the egg hunt she wants us to have, and in what kind of places we should hide the eggs, and how she might help Adrian, or how we could mark which eggs are hers and then she could leave the ones that aren’t so Adrian can find them. She makes plans for her Easter witch outfit, where she will go, which basket she will have for her Easter cards and which one for the candy. And so on.

It’s not just Easter, of course. She spends a lot of time time planning and thinking about what she will be doing tomorrow, or next weekend, or two weeks from now; how things might turn out, what she might do. Some of it is anticipation, the pleasure of looking forward to something nice coming up soon. Some of it seems to be a real anxiety to know.

It is very unlike how I function and frankly I find it pretty annoying at times. Talking about something that might happen in the future, instead of enjoying what we are doing now; trying to plan things in way too much detail, way too far in advance. I’m trying to find a balance, letting her keep the anticipation but reducing the excessive planning – or at least ensuring that it doesn’t get in the way of enjoying the now.

And yet at the same time she likes surprises and to be surprised, and is immensely disappointed if someone (read: Adrian) ruins a surprise.

She has difficulty making choices and committing herself. She makes such an effort to get it right and is worried about missing out. She changes her mind, second guesses herself.

Before a weekend she mentally makes long lists of all the things she wants to do and then usually ends up disappointed because she cannot be in two places at the same time, and cannot fit all her plans into the hours that a day has.

Ingrid wants to be, and is, competent. She wants to accomplish things on her own, without anybody helping. It really annoys her when someone decides that she needs help with her horse during a riding lesson. Usually she is pretty good at judging what she can and cannot manage.

We got her a phone a few months ago. She feels proud about having it and especially enjoys receiving text messages. She also likes reading the ones I get for me.

Her phone also doubles as an alarm clock and this is working out really really well. I don’t know if this is because it’s actually easier for her to wake up this way, or because she feels like a big girl this way.

She also likes helping Adrian (most of the time), for example helping him put on his clothes in the morning. She enjoys playing with him, but also gets really angry at him at times. They have a lot of ups and downs.

I learn better when there is some structure to support my learning. To learn photography, I need a workshop, a project, or some other external support. Left to my own devices I slide back into my habitual groove of taking pretty much the same kinds of photos of the same kinds of things.

I’m in between courses right now. It’s like being between meals: the next meal may be some while away, but you know it’s coming.

I thought I’d keep busy in the meantime. I bought an e-book with 50 chapters and joined a study group that would work through that book over a year. But the combination of a fast pace (a chapter a week) and no real external pressure meant that it was hard for me to keep up the pace, so I dropped out after just a few weeks. It’s still a good book so I hope to work my way through it at a slower pace. At some point.

Then another assignment turned up on a blog. This one had a deadline of almost a month, and (deceptively) simple theme, so I thought I’d play. The assignment was “lines”.

For several weeks I saw lines everywhere. I could not walk down a street without mentally noting: line. Line. Line line line. Lines. Lines.

I took photos of lines, wherever I some some lines I somehow found interesting. And I looked at other people’s photos of lines. But every time I did, I found myself questioning the purpose of that photo.

What is the meaning of these lines? Who cares about these lines? Why?

Well, hopefully that will be part of the discussion of this in the assignment wrap-up, I thought, and looked forward for that follow-up blog post. To my great surprise and equally great disappointment, Zack’s critique post had nothing at all to say about any of this. There was no mention of the use of lines for a purpose, or the meaning of lines. Lines were lines, and that was that. They could be well seen or not, well lit or not, well photographed or not. But they were never anything more than just lines.

And I just could not make myself care about these photos, or the critique video. I left it after 20 minutes and have zero interest in continuing with that assignment series. Totally not my cup of tea.

So what if your lines really make you go “wow, great lines!” or “man, look at those stunning lines”. Who cares about lines?!

Apparently, a lot of people do.

And I’m not saying that lines cannot be the subject of the photo. They can – but in that case they need to say something about something. They might communicate the awesome tallness of a skyscraper, or the stark beauty of an iceberg, or something. Or they may have a supporting role in a photo where the subject is something else: by pointing at some subject, framing it, barring the way to it, etc.

Lines need to have a point, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Today I was listening to a podcast by another photographer while emptying the dishwasher and doing the dishes: Question The Image, by David DuChemin. He also talks about lines (starting at 19:10 in the podcast) and it was fascinating to me to hear how differently he approached lines. In just a few moments he had questioned lines from half a dozen aspects. “Do they lead the eye, do they provide balance, do they form relationships between elements, do they connect things? Do they lead you in to the photograph or out of the photograph?”

Now this is photography with a meaning, photography that says something.

Two well-known professional photographers with blogs. And two so utterly different ways of thinking about photography.

Lines of growth. Of aspiration cut off. Of contrast, natural vs man-made.

Lines of exclusion. Lines that bar the way, separate, outsiders vs insiders.

Lines that block but also protect and support.