Women in Space

I was quite shocked recently learning that Sarah Brightman, the bird who is credited as the creator of the crossover genre in classical/pop music is set to be aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to visit the International Space Station (ISS), in 2015. Apparently spending upwards of £30 million for the experience. She may be the first famous opera singer in space if she really does get up there but it made me think of the actual first woman in space; Valentina Tereshkova.

She was born in the village Maslennikovo, Tutayevsky District, Yaroslavl Oblast, in central Russia. Her parents had migrated from Belarus.Tereshkova’s father was a tractor driver and her mother worked in a textile plant. Tereshkova began school in 1945 at the age of eight, but left school in 1953 and continued her education by correspondence courses.She became interested in parachuting from a young age, and trained in skydiving at the local Aeroclub, making her first jump at age 22 on 21 May 1959; at the time, she was employed as a textile worker in a local factory. It was her expertise in skydiving that led to her selection as a cosmonaut.

After the flight of Yuri Gagarin in 1961, Sergey Korolyov, the chief Soviet rocket engineer, came up with the idea of putting a woman in space. On 16 February 1962, Valentina Tereshkova was selected to join the female cosmonaut corps. Out of more than four hundred applicants, five were selected: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Irina Solovyova, Zhanna Yorkina, Valentina Ponomaryova, and Tereshkova. Qualifications included that they be parachutists under 30 years of age, under 170 cm (5 feet 7 inches) tall, and under 70 kg (154 lbs.) in weight.

Tereshkova was considered a particularly worthy candidate, partly due to her “proletarian” background, and because her father, tank leader sergeant Vladimir Tereshkov, was a war hero. He died in the Finnish Winter War during WWII in the Lemetti area in Finnish Karelia when Tereshkova was two years old. After her mission she was asked how the Soviet Union should thank her for her service to the country. Tereshkova asked that the government search for, and publish, the location where her father was killed in action. This was done, and a monument now stands at the site in Lemetti—now on the Russian side of the border. Tereshkova has since visited Finland several times.

Training included weightless flights, isolation tests, centrifuge tests, rocket theory, spacecraft engineering, 120 parachute jumps and pilot training in MiG-15UTI jet fighters. The group spent several months in intensive training, concluding with examinations in November 1962, after which four remaining candidates were commissioned Junior Lieutenants in the Soviet Air Force. Tereshkova, Solovyova and Ponomaryova were the leading candidates, and a joint mission profile was developed that would see two women launched into space, on solo Vostok flights on consecutive days in March or April 1963.

Originally it was intended that Tereshkova would launch first in Vostok 5 while Ponomaryova would follow her into orbit in Vostok 6. However, this flight plan was altered in March 1963. Vostok 5 would now carry a male cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky flying the joint mission with a woman aboard Vostok 6 in June 1963. The State Space Commission nominated Tereshkova to pilot Vostok 6 at their meeting on 21 May and this was confirmed by Nikita Khrushchev himself. At the time of her selection, Tereshkova was exactly ten years younger than the youngest Mercury Seven astronaut, Gordon Cooper.

After watching the successful launch of Vostok 5 on 14 June, Tereshkova began final preparations for her own flight. She was 26 at the time. On the morning of 16 June 1963, Tereshkova and her back-up Solovyova were both dressed in spacesuits and taken to the launch pad by bus. After completing her communication and life support checks, she was sealed inside the Vostok. After a two-hour countdown, Vostok 6 launched faultlessly, and Tereshkova became the first woman in space. Her call sign in this flight was Chaika (English: Seagull; Russian: Ча́йка), later commemorated as the name of an asteroid, 1671 Chaika.

I am very proud of the achievements my country made at a time where Russia was seen as not only the enemy but also as an inferior race in comparison to the United States. Russia proved their worth by putting Gagarin and other missions into space ahead of NASA. It must be said that many of the scientists on the NASA program were in fact Russian born or by descent. I think Tereshkova and later Svetlana Savitskaya are far more worthier candidates for this type of life because of their dedication to their field of study. Brightman paid god knows how much to get up there and what for, to garner more publicity or is the woman looking to have a career in Cosmology? Perhaps I’m just a cynic but I am a woman who likes to be proven wrong though, if Brightman is going to do something useful with it, then good luck to her however I think the latter is highly doubtful. I am not sure if Space tourism is the way forward but if somebody is going to use their experience for the better of mankind then I am all for it. Doing it merely because “you’ve always wanted to go into space” is not a valid reason and excuse to waste all those resources and money. Again in my opinion and I seriously doubt that the £30 million paid for Brightman’s ticket was paid for by her; remember my country is a genius at propaganda. It was more than likely some rich oligarch footed the bill but that can’t be proven and if the mission does ever “get off the ground” then may the force be with them.

Super or Satanic Cats?

One of the most common questions asked between newly dating couples is if the other person is a “cat person” or a “dog person.” This seemingly mundane inquiry is supposed to provide adequate assessment for the nature of the individual since he or she tends to like the animal which resembles his or her habits the most. Many like to think of “cat people” as those in the minority since dogs tend to be thought of as man’s best friend in Western society, but cats actually have a regal and long standing tie to humanity all on their own. Even though dogs tend to be steady in their role as side by side companions of mankind, cats have been through a roller coaster of ups and downs with some cultures idolizing them as gods or the height of the presence of the mystical and magical on the earthly plane to being very negative omens or animal embodiment of demons and evil spirits. The fact that cats are still around and still part of many individualized belief systems and folklore shows that they are truly strong animals that can outlast any negative press and a history of being hated only to rise above all that to remain special in the hearts of humans. The “Cat Enigma” seems to have been in existence since the dawn of time.

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(My cat Luna; posing)

In so many cultures cats have God/Goddess status but in predominantly Western culture, cats have been the “poster-child” for Satanism.

TOP 10 REASONS TO GET A CAT

1. They are self reliant. They can hunt their own food and amuse themselves.

2. Although very self indulgent, a cat can offer great comfort in sadness and times of uncertainty as they have a fantastic sixth sense. A good cuddle from a cat is better than chocolate!

3. Ok I cannot find a 3rd reason but cats are amazing creatures and the personalities they have make wonderful if not sometimes cantankerous friends.

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Although I love cats, dogs I find are less picky and don’t try and slap you when you want to give them attention and love. Also they don’t wake you up at 3am meowing wanting strokes!

The Wonders of a Forest through the eyes of Nelleke Pieters

I’ve always been fascinated by forests since I was a child. My mother always dissuaded me from entering them or woodlands because of talking to strangers and the usual fears that Mums get with their children. I used to love going to the New Forest in Dorset nearby to my home and gazing around looking up at the trees. I was also lucky to grow up around many other woods near our home and to this day, the beauty of golden light through leaves never fails to enchant me.

Stumbling through my rather boring morning I came across the work of Dutch photographer Nelleke Pieters who has managed to capture the magic and mystery that forests evoke when we think or visit them.  I hope you enjoy viewing her work. All copyright is reserved to her and no infringement was intended.

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Bright blessings to all 🙂

Diamond Queens

Whether one is royalist or republican, it has to be said that HM Queen Elizabeth II has had a very long and successful reign. So this blog is to congratulate her and other powerful inspirational ladies who are heads of state. Also a very big congratulations to HM Queen Margrethe of Denmark who celebrated her Ruby Jubilee this year. Sit back and learn of these inspirational ladies and the positivity they create and spread to all of us in one way or another.

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HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark

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Princess Margrethe was born on 16 April 1940 at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen as the first child of Crown Prince Frederick and Crown Princess Ingrid of Denmark. Her father was the eldest son of King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine of Denmark, and her mother was the only daughter of Crown Prince Gustav Adolf and Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden. Her birth took place just one week after Nazi Germany‘s invasion of Denmark on 9 April 1940.

She was named after her maternal grandmother Princess Margaret of Connaught, Alexandrine after her paternal grandmother, Duchess Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and Ingrid after her mother. Since her paternal grandfather, the then-reigning King Christian X, was also the King of Iceland at the time, and Margrethe until 1944 was an Icelandic princess, the Princess was as a tribute to the people of Iceland given an Icelandic name, Þórhildur, consisting of “Thor” and the word for “battle” or “fight”. The name is spelled with the thorn letter, which is a surviving rune, and is equivalent to “th”. It is sometimes anglicized as Thorhildur.

At the time of her birth, only males could ascend the throne of Denmark, owing to the changes in succession laws enacted in the 1850s when the Glücksburg branch was chosen to succeed. As she had no brothers, it was assumed that her uncle Prince Knud would one day assume the throne.

The process of changing the constitution started in 1947, not long after her father ascended the throne and it became clear that Queen Ingrid would have no more children. The popularity of Frederik and his daughters and the more prominent role of women in Danish life started the complicated process of altering the constitution. That proposal had to be passed by two Parliaments in succession and then by a referendum, which was held on 27 March 1953. The new Act of Succession permitted female succession to the throne of Denmark, according to male-preference primogeniture, where a female can ascend to the throne only if she does not have a brother. Princess Margrethe therefore became the Heiress presumptive.

On her eighteenth birthday, 16 April 1958, the Heiress Presumptive was given a seat in the Council of State, and the Princess subsequently chaired the meetings of the Council in the absence of the King.

On 10 June 1967, Princess Margrethe married a French diplomat, Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, at the Church of Holmen in Copenhagen. Laborde de Monpezat received the style and title of “His Royal Highness Prince Henrik of Denmark” because of his new position as the spouse of the Heiress Presumptive to the Danish throne.

Margrethe gave birth to her first child, Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark, on 26 May 1968. A second child, Prince Joachim, was born on 7 June 1969. She is a very intelligent lady. As well as her native tongue, she can speak English, Swedish, German and French. It should also be known more of her artistic talents as well as her position in society.

The Queen is an accomplished painter, and has held many art shows over the years.Her illustrations—under the pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer—were used for the Danish edition of The Lord of the Rings published in 1977 and the re-issue in 2002.In 2000 she illustrated Henrik, the Prince Consort’s poetry collection Cantabile. She is also an accomplished translator and is said to have participated in the Danish translation of The Lord of the Rings.Margrethe can also add costume designer to her many talents, having designed the costumes for the 2009 Peter Flinth film, “De vilde svaner” (the Wild Swans).Margrethe also designs some of her own clothes.

HM Queen Silvia of Sweden

Queen Silvia was born in Heidelberg, Germany, on 23 December 1943.She is the daughter of the late Walther Sommerlath and his Brazilian wife Alice, née de Toledo, also deceased. Her maternal grandfather was Artur Floriano de Toledo (1873–1935), a descendant of King Afonso III of Portugal and his concubine Maria Peres de Enxara. She is also of very distant Amerindian Brazilian ancestry and one ancestors was Chief Tibiriçá.

Before her marriage to the King of Sweden, Silvia Sommerlath worked at the Argentine Consulate in Munich, was an educational host during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, and served as the Deputy Head of Protocol for the Winter Games in Innsbruck in Austria. She also was briefly a flight attendant.

She is a trained interpreter and speaks six languages: Swedish, her native languages German and Portuguese, as well as French, Spanish, and English. She has some fluency in Swedish Sign Language, a national sign language used by the deaf community in Sweden.

She met and fell in love with the King at the Summer 1972 Olympics in Munich. They went onto to have three children, Crown Princess Victoria, Crown Prince Carl Philip and Crown Princess Madeleine. She is also a grandmother to Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel’s daughter; Princess Estelle.

Queen Silvia is involved in numerous charity organizations, especially in the area of disadvantaged children, and has made several public statements about human rights and the sexual exploitation of children. On her own initiative, she alone watched videos confiscated by the police, of sexually abused children in an early pedophile tangle. The statement she made to the press became an eye opener for many people that the problem exists.

She was a co-founder of the World Childhood Foundation in 1999, having been inspired by her work as Patron of the first World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in Stockholm.

She also works actively for the handicapped, including as Chairman of the Royal Wedding Fund and Queen Silvia’s Jubilee Fund. In 1990, she was awarded the prestigious German prize “Deutscher Kulturpreis” for her work for the handicapped. The Queen is also an honorary board member of The Mentor Foundation International, that works against drug use in adolescents and young adults. She is also the Patroness of the “Queen Silvia Fund” operated by the World Scout Foundation which raises funds for Scouts with disabilities.

Her commitment to the work with dementia and the care of the elderly at the end of life is also well known and respected. On her initiative, Silviahemmet was established in Stockholm. It works to educate hospital personnel in how to work with people suffering from dementia, and also initiates research in the area.

The Queen also has brought the subject of dyslexia into the public arena in Sweden. For many years, it was widely rumored that the King has dyslexia. Journalists noted that he misspelled his name when signing his accession document, and in 1973, when visiting a copper mine, he misspelled his name when signing it on a rock wall. In an interview on Swedish television in 1997, the condition was admitted publicly when the Queen addressed the issue. “When he was little, people did not pay attention to the problem,” she said. “He didn’t get the help he needed.”

HM Queen Sonja of Norway

Sonja was born in Oslo on 4 July 1937 as the daughter of clothing merchant Karl August Haraldsen (1889–1959) and Dagny Ulrichsen (1898–1994). She grew up at 1B Tuengen Allé in the district of Vinderen in Oslo and completed her lower secondary schooling in 1954. She received a diploma in dressmaking and tailoring at the Oslo Vocational School, as well as a diploma from École Professionelle des Jeunes Filles in Lausanne, Switzerland. There, she studied accounting, fashion design, and social science. Sonja returned to Norway for further studies and received an undergraduate degree (French, English and Art History) from the University of Oslo.

She became engaged to then Crown Prince Harald in March 1968. They had been dating for nine years, although this had been kept secret because of opposition to her non-royal status. The Crown Prince made it clear to his father, King Olav V, that he would remain unmarried for life unless he could marry her. This would in effect have put an end to the rule of his family and probably to the monarchy in Norway, as he was the sole heir to the throne. Faced with having to choose one of his relatives from the Danish Royal Family, the Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein or even the Grand Dukes of Oldenburg as his new heir in place of his son, Olav V consulted the government for advice and the result was that the couple were wed on 29 August 1968, at Oslo Domkirke in Oslo. She thus acquired the style of Royal Highness and the title of Crown Princess of Norway.

Immediately after the wedding, the new Crown Princess began to carry out her royal duties, traveling extensively in Norway and abroad. In 1972 she was involved in establishing Princess Märtha Louise’s Fund, which provides assistance to disabled children in Norway. She has taken active part in large-scale initiatives to raise funds for international refugees and spent time in the 1970s visiting Vietnamese boat refugees in Malaysia.

From 1987 to 1990, Crown Princess Sonja served as Vice President of the Norwegian Red Cross. She was responsible for the organisation’s international activities. She took part in a Red Cross delegation to Botswana and Zimbabwe in 1989. Sonja established this music competition in 1988. It was originally for pianists, but in 1995 the competition became only for singers. The jury consists of diverse authoritative figures in opera and the winners receive a cash amount and prestigious engagements at Norwegian music institutions. In 2005, Queen Sonja became the first queen ever to visit Antarctica.The Queen was there to open the Norwegian Troll research station in the country’s Antarctic dependency, Queen Maud Land. The Queen flew in on one of the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s C-130H Hercules transport aircraft, landing at Troll airfield.

HM Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

Beatrix (Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard was born 31 January 1938) is the Queen regnant of the Kingdom of the Netherlands comprising the Netherlands, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and Aruba.

Beatrix was born in Baarn, the Netherlands. She is the eldest daughter of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. In 1948, she became heiress presumptive to the throne of the Netherlands. When her mother Juliana abdicated on 30 April 1980, Beatrix succeeded her as Queen of the Netherlands.

She attended public primary and secondary schools in Canada, during World War II, and in the Netherlands. In 1961, she received her law degree from Leiden University. In 1966, Beatrix married Claus van Amsberg, with whom she had three children: Prince Willem-Alexander (1967), Prince Friso (1968) and Prince Constantijn (1969). Her husband Prince Claus died in 2002.

Queen Beatrix is the oldest reigning monarch of the Netherlands. It is particularly interested in sculpture, painting, ballet and music. She regularly visits exhibitions and attends performances, and she enjoys talking to the artists themselves. She takes a great personal interest in awarding the annual Royal Grant for Painting. She often hits the Austrian slopes for a spot of skiing.

I would have included HM Queen Sofía of Spain and the former Queen of Greece. But as Spain took a very petty attitude to the Diamond Jubilee and the Queen of Greece was forced out of power, I don’t believe they are worth a mention with the greatest of respect.

The ladies and Queens mentioned are Queens by birth right but I believe that Silvia and Sonja are Queens in her own right and has contributed greatly to their subjects in both support to their husbands and the tireless charity work undertaken publically and privately. I wish them much health and happiness, and to all those ladies out there who are empowered and happy. These ladies are true and sincere examples of empowerment. Long live the Queens! 🙂

Gudrun Sjödén: Cream of Swedish Design

Years ago I received a catalog of Gudrun’s work by a friend and since then have been a long time admirer of her eclectic and original designs. Her clothes and interior design is an infusion of good old fashioned Swedish functionality, romance and inspiration from other cultures; Indian, Nepalese, South African to name a few. Her catalogs are something of Art, shot in locations all over the world to drafty castles in and around Sweden. I hope you enjoy her work and be inspired.

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INTERIOR DESIGN

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See for yourself and visit her home page: http://www.gudrunsjoden.com 🙂

The Enigma Trapped In A Mystery: Karelia

THE FORGING AND BREAK UP:

Karelia is an unknown land perhaps to some but it is a land of mystery, beauty and legends. It should also be known that the origins of Russia as we know today began here. It has many natural resources such a copper which was mined as far back as 1 CE and 1000 CE. During the 13th Century it was bitterly fought over by Sweden and the Novgorod Republic (who also controlled most of Arctic Russia and the Baltic). The Treaty of Nöteborg was to define the very future of Karelia.

The treaty was negotiated with the help of Hanseatic merchants in order to conclude the Swedish-Novgorodian Wars. As a token of good will, Prince Yuri ceded three of his Karelian parishes to Sweden; Sweden would in turn stay out of any conflict between Novgorod and Narva. Both sides would also promise to refrain from building castles on the new border. Image

The treaty defined the border as beginning east and north of the Viborg Castle, running along Sestra and Volchya Rivers, splitting the Karelian Isthmus in half, running across Savonia, and, according to the traditional interpretations, ending in the Gulf of Bothnia near the Pyhäjoki River. Only the southern part of the border, close to Vyborg, was actually considered important and clearly defined in the treaty. Border in the wilderness was defined very roughly, and was presumably considered less important than the line across the Karelian Isthmus. The Treaty also included Samiland and Ostrobothnia (today part of Finland)

Finnic tribes living on both sides of the border, mainly Karelians, Finns, and Tavastians, had no say in the treaty. Sweden and Novgorod had already de facto established their areas of influence in eastern Fennoscandia, with Karelians under Russian rule and other tribes in the west under Swedish rule. The treaty established international approval for that structure, but the concept of “permanent peace” did not have much effect on the long-term conflict between Novgorod and Sweden. The northern part of the border crossed wide stretches of wilderness in which the Hansa and its diplomats were not interested, but these areas became a bone of contention between Sweden and Novgorod soon thereafter. Anxious to retrieve the northern shore of the Gulf of Bothnia, Sweden may have forged part of the treaty only a few years laterand claimed that the northern border went all the way up to the Arctic Ocean. Within five years after the treaty was signed, Swedish colonists started making inroads into northern Ostrobothnia.Sweden also established castles at Uleåborg around 1375 and Olofsborg in 1475, clearly on the Novgorodian side of the border.

The Swedes’ Russian counterparts refused to accept the apparent forgery until 1595, when the Treaty of Teusina acknowledged the Swedish text as the correct one. However, long before that, Sweden had succeeded in permanently taking over large areas on the Novgorod side of the original border, including Ostrobothnia and Savonia. Eventually, the territory west of the border, along with the expanse to the north, becoming the country that is known today as Finland.

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THE MAGIC OF KARELIA

It is to be believed that the forests of this land have plants that are used medicinally and for Pagan rituals. Magic is still very much part of the peoples’ everyday lives. The forests are said to contain magical beings both good and evil. It should also be noted that Karelia embodies the very essence of Russia… an enigma trapped in a mystery. And the photos below show more than anybody could describe;

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PHOTOS BY IVAN DEMENTIEVSKY

Lunar Magic

Priština, Republic of Kosovo

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Temple of Poseidon, Athens, Greece

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Amman

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Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in Dresden, Germany

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St. Isaak’s Cathedral in St.Petersburg, Russia

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Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

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Jerusalem Forest, Israel

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