Harakka Island – Chapter 10

It’s our last day with Ice Swimmer’s series Harakka an Island and we’re back to the port preparing to leave. I’ve enjoyed this series immensely. It’s been like an old-fashioned travelogue and the moving perspectives helped bring the island to life. It’s been so nice to see things from more than one vantage point. I’m a bit saddened that we’re leaving already, but isn’t that just the way it is with any trip…too short and over too soon.  Thank you Ice Swimmer.  It’s been a great adventure and now I’ll let  you lead the way home.


Chapter 10 – Departure


1. Crane, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

Now we’re back on the pier. The signal for the boat has been raised (not in the picture), but we have some time take a look at the crane. The other end of our boat trip is the white pier behind the crane.


2. Goodbye Harakka, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

The boat is almost here, so all we can do is to take a last look, lower the signaling semaphore (again, not in the picture) and get aboard the boat.

This was our tour (mine in person and yours through these photos) of Harakka in July 2018. We saw some things, but there’s more to the island than this, but that is another story of things that have not happened yet. I actually went to Harakka on two different evenings for these pictures, and I haven’t been there since that. Another time of the day or a cloudy day would show the place in a different light.


Harakka Island – Chapter 9

We’re back to  Arakka an Island and in this chapter Ice Swimmer takes us to see views east. Off we go…


Chapter 9 – Views East


1. Birches and Särkkä, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

From the front yard of Vellamo, we take another look at Särkkä, also seeing a few birches and the tower of the church in Suomenlinna. The church tower has a dual role as a lighthouse.

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Jack’s Walk

Little blue butterfly


Little blue butterfly with gossamer wings

For once my timing was good. This morning I was taking photos of our sedum turning pink and just as I had my camera ready, this little purple butterfly fluttered into frame and stayed long enough for me to take its picture. That almost never happens for me, mostly because of the impatient and snorfling dog by my side. Anyway, my photo of flowering sedum got an upgrade. I did quick search and I think it may be a female Eastern-Tailed blue butterfly.

Harakka Island – Chapter 8

It’s another chapter of Ice Swimmer’s Harakka an Island.  We’ve climbed down from the top and we’re ready to go. Lead the way Ice Swimmer.


Chapter 8- East Shore to Vellamo


1. A Birch and Särkkä, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

A bit to the south of the crossroads, there’s birch and we can see the island Särkkä in the southeast. Särkkä is next to the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress and the fortfications in Särkkä were built to support the main sea fortress. Nowadays Särkkä is used by a yacht club as a base and there are two restaurants there.


2. Footprints or Whose Island Part 3, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

Also on the eastern shore, webbed feet are quite numerous.


3. Strawberries ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

Wild strawberry plants were plentiful, but there were very few berries.


4. Stone Ruin and Vellamo Cottage, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

The Vellamo House/Cottage is a nature fairy tale house for kids featuring books and educational play facilities.


5. Entry, Ice Swimmer, ©all rights reserved

This mystery path through the bush starts next to Vellamo.


6. Duckboards or Pitkospuut,  ©all rights reserved

The mystery path features duckboards, in Finnish pitkospuut (free translation: lengthwise planks of wood), to walk on. We don’t (or more like, I didn’t) want to get ticks so, we leave the mystery be a mystery.

Next, we’ll go to the front yard of Vellamo to take a look east.



Tree Tuesday

These photos were sent in by Opus and were taken in a bristlecone pine grove near Lone Pine, California. I think they make a brilliant set. Their beauty is stark and tortured and they evoke feelings of tenderness and vulnerability in me. Well captured, Opus. I’m so glad you shared them. Thanks.

©Opus, all rights reserved

©Opus, all rights reserved

©Opus, all rights reserved

Harakka Island – Chapter 7

When we last left Ice Swimmer’s series Harakka an Island we were at the top of the island. Where to next Ice Swimmer?


Chapter 7 – Back from the Top and Downhill



1. View East from the Laboratory Front Yard, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

Now we’re back from the top of the island, in the front yard of the Artists’ Building, looking east, the pier is behind the red wooden buildings. We’ll go a bit south and go down the hill back towards the crossroads.


2. Down to the Crossroads, ©Ice Swimmer all rights reserved

We’re going down the same road we got up to the Artists’ Building. The history exhibition building is to the left and the pier from which we came is on the other side of the crossroads. We’ll be going to the right from the crossroads, to the south.


Making a Rondel Dagger – Part 17 – Finale

When I have made my first, very crude, knife some twenty years ago, my friend’s father commented:

Charly, people want it to be handmade, but they do not want it to be immediately apparent that it is handmade.

That advice stuck in my mind so when I have read Feet of Clay from Terry Prattchett much later, following line resonated with me:

The thing looked like the kind of pots Igneous despised, the ones made by people who thought that because it was hand-made it was supposed to look as if was hand-made, and that thumbprints baked in the clay were a sign of integrity.

It is not impossible to get a handmade thing to look just perfect, but it takes great skill and experience and I am not there yet, although I might be heading in the right direction. The pictures hide some of the mistakes and imperfections that were not intended and are apparent – for example the blade is not symmetrical against the handle and the hand guard, so when it is in the scabbard the upper part of the guard sticks out more than the lower, and it is visible. Despite my best efforts the blade got a scratch from a grain that got somehow into the scabbard, and the handle got scratched too in the meantime. Which was inevitable if ever the knife were used, and I do intend to use it at least somehow, to see how it fares.


But enough of that, let me present to you the dagger of one of the most kickass characters in fantasy literature known to me, Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, aka the Lion Cub of Cintra, granddaughter of queen  Calanthe Fiona Riannon of Cintra, aka the Lioness of Cintra and daughter of Pavetta Fiona Elen and Emhyr var Emreis, Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd the Emperor of Nilfgaard. This is my interpretation of the dagger worn by her as a sidearm in the computer game Witcher 3 – I noticed that dagger right on my first encoutner with her in my gameplay and I immediately wanted to make one. I photographed it on a bobbin lace doily that my mother has just made for her sister’s birthday. Bobbin lace is period/theme appropriate and I think it provides nice contrast and improves the quality content of these pictures by no small amount.


©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I tried to tie the leather strap as close to how it is done on the in-game model as I could manage. The only significant difference from the game model is the red leather on the scabbard, instead of brown.


If you look closely, here you can see that the hand guard does not stick out symmetrically on both sides of the scabbard.


Overall length ca. 395 mm, blade ca. 257 mm long, 23 mm wide at the guard, single-edged. Good cutting ability although not as good as a dedicated cutting blade would have. It is still a stabbing weapon.


Handle is turned out of maple wood. Rings are allingend perpendicularily to the blade so the shiny lignin spots are symmetricaly with it on both sides of the handle.


Rondel has ten hammered grooves giving it a daisy like look. All metal parts are polished to mirror finish and buffed with jeweler’s rouge.


Although the handle looks massive, the knife is weighed towards the tip when put on a flat surface. I guess it could be thrown, but I do not intend to try it for fear of the blade breaking.


My signature for knives from now on – my initials in Glagolitic script. This is also the writing used in the Witcher games, so it also thematically appropriate.

Harakka Island – Chapter 6

It’s time for the next chapter in Ice Swimmer’s series Harakka – an Island. Our guide will take it from here. Thanks, Ice Swimmer.


Chapter 6 – Top of the Island


1. Odd Spruce, Rocks and open sea, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

This view is from the top of the island, towards southeast. I wonder what has happened to the spruce.

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Fluff and … Fluff… and Flowers

And as a finale of his week’s series from rq, mostly fluffy pictures.

©rq, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

One has to admire thistles. Fluffy flowers, fluffy seeds and spiky everything else.


Bumlebees and bees have similar combination of fluff and spiky, I sense a theme here.


More fluff, but where are the sharp bits?


No fluff, no sharp bits. Just a wannabe tough guy.

And finally no fluff and no shar bits whatsoever. Just perfect depth of field. I love this picture.

Wot Lives in the Bog

Second in this series from rq are plants growing in a bog. I hope she did not get too wet trying to get these pictures for us. They are beautiful and they do illustrate the biodiversity of an acidic bog nicely. There is even a predator here, hidden bellow the fold.

©rq, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Possibly a plant from the Cyperaceae family

Calluna vulgaris

Calluna vulgaris

Vaccinium vitis-idaea L

Vaccinium vitis-idaea L

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Anatomy Atlas Part 22 – Eye

For humans the eyes are probably one of the most important senses. They are definitively for me, so two years ago when a willow twig slashed me across one eye the pain was a mere secondary concern to the fear that an infection might cost me the whole eye. I did not hesitate and immediately sought medical help, got antibiotics and atropine and the eye healed in just a few weeks. Ever since then I am wearing eye protection when pruning willows, in addition to all the other jobs I am used to do so.

Description of an unpleasant  and cringe-worthy incident follows.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Incidentally just a few days ago I had a short conversation with the cleaning lady at our lab about this. I have made some mess that I did not manage to clean up before she arrived to mop the floors and I was apologizing to her for this. Her response was that it is her job to clean the floors and mine was that I know but that is no reason for me to do her job unnecessarily harder by not sweeping the aluminum shavings after I am done. After which she remarked in a passing that her former boyfriend was drilling aluminium when doing some renovations, he was too macho to wear an eye protection and got an aluminium shaving in one eye. And after that he was too macho to go to the doctor immediately, saying “it will rot away”.  And it did. With the whole eyeball. She finished “now he has one glass eye, and I have found myself a better man.”.

An example of how toxic masculinity is harmful, if I ever saw one.

Most people know at least something about the eye anatomy I guess, but I would bet most people do not know about the muscles musculus obliquus bulbi superior and musculus obliquus bulbi inferior.

These muscles can rotate the eyeball slightly around the front-back axis. Why is this? you might ask.

Generally the muscles around the eye, when you are looking at something, try to keep the picture you see static and at the center of focus, even when you move. So when you look at your monitor right now and tilt your head to left and back, your eye bulbs will rotate in the sockets in such a way as to keep the light falling on the same parts of retina throughout. That is also one of the reasons why human eyes cannot “pan” like a camera, but always skip from point to point.

It was explained to us that the purpose of this is to save the brain from getting overloaded with constantly changing stimuli. When the eye is fixed, it delivers constant signal to the brain from most of the retina, and the brain then can concentrate only on that which is really important – i.e. that which changes on its own.

I do not have the knowledge to challenge this notion, but I must say that the brain-software that keeps the eye focused and immobile relatively to the thing we are looking at must be pretty impressive too, with all those feedback loops reacting so quickly as they do.