Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas makes my Heart glad

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more! 
Dr. Seuss

I bought Dr. Seuss books for my children when they were little. We read them time and again. Children books should be fun to read for the adults. After all, they have to read them a zillion times to their children.

He has many words of wisdom this Dr. Seuss. There's something to learn in his stories, a moral, an eye-opener to consider.

He is right about Christmas. It is definitely more than what comes from a store. And as the Grinch understands this and feels the spirit of Christmas, his heart grows three sizes.

We are now in the time of the season that the Norwegians call middle-of-Christmas. It's the time between Christmas and New Year's Eve. Scandinavians sing songs about Christmas lasting until Easter, but that's going a little bit too far.

I have listened to Christmas music the whole month of December. it has cheered me up, enlightened my spirit, and filled my mind with good feelings and encouragement.

I have many favorite Christmas songs, but thought I would choose one today that is especially dear to me.

Good King Wenceslas is a song about a good king who teaches his page the true meaning of Christmas by bringing him out to help a poor peasant on Christmas Eve. It's a beautiful story and touches my heart every time.

This season I have listened to these albums the most times:
Mormon Tabernacle Choir Spirit of the Season

Michael Buble Christmas

Jenny Oaks Baker Noel

Hilary Weeks Christmas Once Again

Beautiful, wonderful feeling of Christmas through music and stories. Makes my heart glad.

Photos from our Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Christmas Gentleman

I packed up four or five bags of groceries at the store and stuffed a large box of corn flakes under my left arm. I noticed a man, probably in his mid-twenties, staring at me as I struggled to carry all the things at once out to my car. He came over and asked if he should help me and grabbed the box of breakfast cereal.

"I am not going to steal it," he said with a smile.
"If you stole my box of corn flakes, it would mean you were terribly hungry, and it would be OK," I answered.
He just smiled again and asked if he should carry more bags for me.

A little sceptical, but grateful, I walked to the car with him, wondering if his intention was to see what kind of car I drove. I was saddened by the fact that scepticism more often creeps into my thought nowadays, but I wanted to believe that he was filled with a Christmas spirit and saw a damsel in distress and acted as a gentleman should.

I thanked the nice man and called Arnfinn from the car
"You know what just happened? I don't think I have ever experienced this in Norway before. A young man just offered to help me carry my bags to the car," I said excitedly.
"Do you still have your car key and purse," Arnfinn asked.
I giggled. "Yes, it's all good. I believe he was just really nice."

Our two-year old grandson, Scott, is also quite a gentleman. He stands by the door and with an elegant flick of the hand he says, "There you go, girls first." He stands patiently and waits for his mother and little sister to pass. Very cool. (photo of Scott)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mistletoe and Kisses

There's a dry little twig of mistletoe hanging in the doorway entrance to the living room at the Duck and Cherry. It hangs there all year around. I don't see the need to take it down the other eleven months of the year, although Arnfinn claims that he doesn't need a mistletoe to kiss. Even so, I definitely need to replace the dried out little sprig with a fresher one.
When we lived in Austria I saw the farmers selling large balls of mistletoe on the Christmas markets. The Austrian hang mistletoe with red ribbons on their front door for luck during the season. Some put a sprig on the threshold to ward off nightmares.

I walked up to an older man selling large branches of mistletoe on a stand at the large Christmas market in Linz one December day.
"I would like to buy a small twig of mistletoe," I said.
"Can't do that," he answered gruffly."I only sell whole balls."
I looked at the large mistletoe and my imagination started flashing images of romance and kissing in abundance in the doorway.
"You can do a lot of kissing under such a large branch of mistletoe," I said and laughed.
The man was just as serious and clearly had no idea what I was talking about. He was surely missing out on a lot of fun - and Christmas romance.

Tradition says to hang the mistletoe in the ceiling during the Christmas season. If a woman stands under the mistletoe, she has to allow anyone to kiss her - no protest. For every kiss the man would pick a berry and when the berries ran out, so did the kissing.
The berries actually hold a very sticky substance used for making glue and in olden days it was used to catch birds.

The thing is, the juice from the mistletoe is quite poisonous if it gets into the bloodstream.
We like to live dangerously, don't we?

Mistletoe or Viscum album is a protected species in Norway, since 1956, actually the first plant to be protected in this country. Trees with mistletoe cannot be cut down or hurt in any way. Even though it is a hemi-parasitic shrub that lives on the stems of other trees, it is attractive and rare enough to be allowed privacy.

When you look at a tree with a large mistletoe against the blue sky, it's easy to think it's a bird's nest and not a growing plant. Close up the plant is pretty with small rounded leaves and white, shiny berries.

Photos today: one of my beloved cross-stitch Christmas tree decorations, the small dry sprig over our door, and a tree with mistletoe in Salzburg.
(last photo from Austria,viscumalbum/Interesting)

Monday, December 10, 2012

To choose the good part in December

Another crazy week is over for the inhabitants of the Duck and Cherry. Let me see. What was crazy about last week? Maybe when I drove Arnfinn to an early train and got a flat tire.
I carefully drove to the nearest car repair shop up the street only to find that they didn't open for another hour. Problem was - it was freezing cold and I was in my pyjamas!
The pyjamas were pretty and decent - but let's face it, they were after all pyjamas - not appropriate for shopping our visiting car repair shops and not very warm either.

I finally gave in after standing in the cold for the longest time and asked a friend to come and get me, then called the repair shop when they opened to tell them why my car was outside their shop and where I had hidden the key.

It took hours getting it fixed as I had to call around to find someone who had Goodyear tires in stock, so that I did not have to wait 5-6 days to get it replaced.

How is this a happy story after all? Playing the pyjama game was pretty funny, but what I kept thinking was how grateful I was that this did not happen on the freeway - at night - all alone - etc. etc.
Even half wasted days when you don't get through your to-do list can be blessings in disguise.

Christmas stress creates traffic chaos, accidents, people getting frustrated in lines at the store, tension builds up because of all we should do - having to bake seven kinds of cookies (Norwegian tradition), clean the whole house (also tradition), Christmas cards, gifts and so on.

I would like to have Christmas joy instead of stress.
Think I'll do some planning today and see what is really important and what is not.

How can I choose the good part? What is most valuable and precious within the short time frame I have been allotted? What makes sense to spend time on this Christmas month?
My thoughts go to a scriptural passage in the New Testament about two women.

 38 ¶Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named aMartha received him into her house.
 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, MarthaMartha, thou art acareful and troubled about many things:
 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath achosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Today's water color is a detail from a picture of pointsettas.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

St Nicholas Day

Ich hab ihn gesehen, er ist unterwegs. Einen frohen Nikolaus-Tag!  
(I have seen him, he is on his way. Happy St. Nicholas Day!)

We lived quite a few years in the beautiful land of Austria. Today is St Nicholas Day there. It's December 6th.

First on December 5th we would get visits on the door from Krampus, a beast-like creature who scares the children who are bad before Christmas.

I remember the stores in Austria being full of chocolates and things shaped as Krampus. Parents would scare their children and say Krampus would get them if they were not behaving. I had a discussion with a lady in the store once there, as I thought the devilish-looking candies were horrible as children's teasers in the month of Christmas.

But it's tradition.

And the beauty of this tradition is what happens today on the 6th of December. St Nicholas comes and saves them all, gives gifts, and brings hope and happiness.
On this day we would get visits from young people dressed as the Christmas saint, more like a bishop. He would want to know if the children had been good, polite, and helpful and ask for a small donation.

I miss Austria. I loved living there and I am grateful for the experiences and friendships I formed there - and that formed me.

Today's water color is one I made as an illustration for a Christmas song book. The original was stolen from the author's car in central Europe somewhere, but I fortunately have this photograph of the painting. It depicts the Norwegian "nisse" and the American "Santa Claus".

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December Art Exhibition 2012 at The Duck and Cherry

For those of my readers who live close by I invite you to an open house Art Exhibition at The Duck and Cherry this coming Saturday 11:00-16:00. 

Water colors, calendars, purses , cards, bookmarks, and more.

Art work from Eljarbo Studio by Heidi Morrell Andersen. 
Great Christmas gifts - or give yourself an original work of art this season.

I will be there and drink some "gløgg" with you. Come and say hello.

Below are a few of the water colors on sale. 

I have a strong opinion that what we hang on our walls will influence our daily lives. Art should be uplifting and positive, if that is what we strive for.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I Wanna Be a Bear Today

I have a little bit of a problem today. 
I keep thinking about what it would be like to hibernate, to go to sleep for a few months and wake up on a sun-shiny, bird-chirping, spring day. The reality is I am cold. Outside thermometer shows -13 Celsius (8,6 F). My body is rebelling and not cooperating and I feel sad. 

Threefold threat. 

Appropriately enough I will post this small and deep felt poem found on the net.

I wanna be a bear
If you're a bear, you get to hibernate.
You do nothing  but sleep for six months.
I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate,
you eat yourself stupid.
I could deal with that, too.

If you're a bear, you birth your children 
(who are the size of walnuts) 
while you are sleeping
 and wake up to partially grown, cute cuddly cubs.
I could definitely deal with that.

If you're a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business.
You swat anyone who bothers your cubs
If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too.
I could deal with that.

If you're a bear, your mate expects you to wake up growling.
He expects you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

I wanna be a bear.

bears%20lounging.jpg (22516 bytes)

Friday, November 30, 2012

To eat or not to eat

I heard a noise from the front porch and dashed to the window to check what Hector, the Wheaten Terrier was up to out there. He was chomping on ice from his drinking tray. Yes, it's that cold. Burr.
Very little calories in chips of ice - not that he worries about that - after all he is not a girl and he is a dog.

This week I went to lunch with two of my daughters at a nice cafeteria called The Strawberry Girls (Jordbærpikene). One of my daughters is on a low carb diet for health reasons. She has always had a good appetite, and as she a little reluctantly bit a piece of the delicious bread that went along with the salad we bought, she said, "We are celebrating with carbohydrates."

Obviously we don't need alcohol or drugs to celebrate. Carbs will do the trick. Or chips of ice, according to Hector. Or a piece or three of good chocolate.

We are blessed to have enough food to eat.
Tiffany was on the radio a few years ago. She was interviewed about a food kitchen she started in Bergen. She claimed that every person has the right to food, to eat.
In a large upstairs room with adjacent kitchen she spent every Sunday preparing vegan meals for the poor and homeless. The vegetables, fruits, rice, etc. she cooked with was donated by grocery stores she visited every Saturday afternoon.

I went with her one time and helped her carry the donations to the kitchen. Next day Arnfinn and I went and paid the 10 NOK ($1 1/2 ) for a delicious all-you-can-eat meal.

I am so proud of her for giving her time, effort, and skills to help the needy. She is brave and fights for what she believes in.

The art work today is not mine, but two drawings Tiffany did many years ago.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

All is well with little children who pass away

A sweet friend of mine has eight children. Seven are grown-up and thriving here on earth as part of their family, joining in on family traditions and gatherings.
But the first little boy was so pure and special, he did not need an earth life to prove what he could do or show himself worthy to return to his Heavenly Father.

My friend is a poetess. She writes poems and stories that are so sweet and often deep - they make me see what she is describing and bring me to imaginary places.

Yesterday she sent me a poem and a story about her little boy's journey. I asked her if I could post the first part here.


Ferryman, ferryman
Bring me over
To the other side
Where the tall trees are growing
Where the seagulls cry
And the cold winds are blowing.

See me through.

Pick me a stick
And a word in time
A warm coat
And a verse and a rhyme.
A warm knitted hat
With brown little squirrels around the brim
Eager to leap on a happy whim.
Leave me a vessel
That floats and rocks
And several nuts in a little box.

Away I go
Over seas and trees.
Just grant me some pluck
And wish me luck.

I personally believe that little children who pass away before they are accountable are redeemed. God knows who they are and loves them.

Today's water color depicts a little fairy asleep in a bird's nest.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Unremembered Peace

Thanksgiving came and went. The Duck and Cherry slumbers peacefully this afternoon. The dishes (which took about three hours) are done, the last guests have left, and I am blissfully exhausted.

Hector is always thrilled when the grandchildren come, because when they sit in their high chairs and eat, they spill, mess, and intentionally drop food on the floor. I have worked hard to make him a good puppy, one who doesn't beg for food at the table, but it gets confusing to him every time these little munchkins seem to actually "feed" him goodies.

Hector is also very patient with them as they crawl into his sanctuary - cage - and his water is always full of floaties - or the water is put away altogether, because someone is always splashing their hands in the bowl. One little grandson has grown up with two small dogs and he in his Mowgli state actually kneels on the floor and tries to slurp up Hector's water from the bowl. Another one eats the dog food. Oh, well, they are all still healthy after a weekend at Mimmi and Bestefar's.

I found this quote on my Goodreads account this morning:

Whatever may be the tensions and the stresses of a particular day, there is always lurking close at hand the trailing beauty of forgotten joy or unremembered peace.
Howard Thurman

It's pretty much how I feel today. Another large family gathering with memories is boxed up in my mind and our home is back to normal. Whatever that is.

I am ready for Christmas to slowly approach now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wonder Woman and Me

I came across this word of wisdom on Facebook this morning:

I'm not saying I am Wonder Woman, I'm just saying that no one has even seen me and Wonder Woman in the same room.

Remember Wonder Woman? That warrior princess of the Amazons, a fictional character with tight-fitting and colorful clothes who could fix any problem. I used to watch the TV series starring Lynda Carter.

When I had young children, I worked at home. One of my jobs was as a designer of cross-stitch patterns for magazines. I did that for 16 years. One time I made a design that said: Supermom, I have no choice.
I thought it was funny and true.

So many parents are superparents. They care for their children and would climb Mount Everest for them. They teach, help, support, and love those little ones that come into their home and when the children grow up, the parents never cease to care for their well being or pray for their safety.

It's interesting and wonderful that one of the Ten Commandments tells us to love our parents. It goes around in circles, doesn't it? If we show our children that we love our parents, our children will come to us for advice and understanding too.

I am in the middle of these two thoughts. I had good parents and I have children who are good to me.
But Wonder Woman? Some days are better than others, but it is possible to be Wonder Woman in many ways. I would never walk around our little town with her flamboyant gym outfit, but I can take time to care for others around me.
A description of Wonder Woman says that she has the ability to feel compassion and give love without discrimination. I would like this to be one of my goal for next year.
Wonder Woman? Yes, it's possible. Work on being a good woman? Definitely!

Today's water color is a fairy's autumn play. It would be possible to do this in the woods here by the Duck and Cherry today, the wind is howling around the tree tops.

Friday, November 16, 2012

About a Thank You

An overwhelming feeling of gratefulness is over me today. I know Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but it's more than that.

It's interesting how tough periods in our life and trials of all sorts can even produce a thankful heart when seen in perspective of time and experience. Blessings come in many shapes and colors.

Being grateful is a necessity, something that goes hand in hand with humility and reverence. A person becomes gentler, more understanding, and more charitable as the heart is shaped into a blend of thankfulness for life.

Domo, merci, takk, grazie, danke, thank you. Children are taught to say these words and grown-ups should be wise to use them often and learn to truly mean it.

It is wisdom in saying a prayer to only thank our Maker -- and not ask for anything.
We will find out that there's more to be grateful for than we initially thought.

Maybe I can twist some of the things I am not grateful for today into a blessing in disguise. The discovery of hidden blessings is both valuable and entertaining. A challenge at the moment is how to be grateful for a dog who wants to run out in the front yard and bark. How can I turn that into something good? Patience is also a virtue to strive for, is it not?

Photo: Arnfinn creating a memory to be grateful for at the cabin.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November Contemplation

The pre-Christmas mood is creeping in on me. I am planning Thanksgiving for our large family and right after that celebration is -- December!

It's a wonderful feeling to get excited about things to come. Anticipation, hope, eagerness, and longing are good words in my vocabulary.

When I grew up tradition was to decorate the Christmas tree on little Christmas Eve, which is the 23rd of December. But now -- and after having lived in several countries around the world, I have picked up a little of the festive celebrations from here and there.

In Okinawa, Japan, where we lived for three years, Christmas trees were flown in around the 10th of December and I stood in line for 3 hours with a little toddler to get one. In my book still, the 10th seems like a good day to decorate the tree. I just have to choose one that will stay pretty and keep most of the pine needles till after New Year's Eve.

Christmas songs will be played from the first day of the Christmas month. The only exception is the sing-a-long we do on Thanksgiving. Then we get out our printed copies for each guest of joyful Christmas songs and go through all three pages of merriment, starting with "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and ending with "Over the River".

It's all about extending that special feeling of Christmas to more than 2 or 3 days. It's about creating a feeling of harmony, love - and holiness - in the home and heart.

Norwegians sing songs about November being gray and dreary, but I like this time of year. It's an indoor, cozy, cocoa-drinking time of year. The winds howl outside, leaves that have lost their golden glow lie frosted in piles here and there on the ground, nature and folks alike prepare for winter to come.

November is a contemplative month. My thoughts creates stories to write, my hands try to paint the scenes in my head, I relive memories from my childhood, and think about how to be a better person. In other words, my mind works a little overtime this time of year.

Today's water color is of Svinøy Lighthouse and depicts a day this time of year meant for indoor activities.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mice and Music

My parents used to say that I was like a radio in the car when I was growing up. I would start to sing as I sat down in the back seat and not shut up until we arrived at the destination.
Anya was pretty much the same way. Tiffany would say, "Mamma, please make her stop singing."And I would try to make it as comfortable as possible for all parties, but remembering my childhood experiences and that no one ever asked me to shut up, I answered, "No, let her sing. She is enjoying it so much."

Music is wonderful, but music can also be horrible. Am I right?
Fortunately we all have different tastes when it comes to music, but I believe that music gets into your head, heart, and soul and makes a difference - one way or another.

An experiment with mice showed exactly this:


He may have won top regional and state science-fair honors, but probably at least some of his friends aren't talking to him. Sixteen-year-old David Merrill, a student at Nansemond River High School in Suffolk, Va., thought that the loud sounds of hard-rock music must have a bad effect on its devoted fans and came up with a way to test that damage.Merrill got 72 mice and divided them into three groups: one to test a mouse's response to hard rock, another to the music of Mozart and a control group that wouldn't listen to any music at all, rock or classical.The young vivisectionist got all the mice accustomed to living in aquariums in his basement, then started playing music 10 hours a day. Merrill put each mouse through a maze three times a week that originally had taken the mice an average of 10 minutes to complete.
Over time, the 24 control-group mice managed to cut about 5 minutes from their maze-completion time. The Mozart-listening mice cut their time back 8-and-a-half minutes.
But the hard-rock mice added 20 minutes to their time, making their average maze-running time 300 percent more than their original average.
Need we say more? Well maybe we do. Merrill told the Associated Press that he'd attempted the experiment the year before, allowing mice in the different groups to live together.
 "I had to cut my project short because all the hard-rock mice killed each other," Merrill said. "None of the classical mice did that."

And should we believe in the lyrics of songs we hear?
Karen Carpenter sang about how rainy days and Mondays got her down. I don't agree. I really like Mondays. And I really like rainy days. Funny thing how different we all are.

I have noticed how I react when I have prepared myself spiritually for an assignment, like interpreting a speaker. I cannot listen to just any kind of music in the car on my way there. The feeling I get if I listen to music that doesn't build me up should be a beacon of what I should listen to on a normal busy day when I don't really notice what's on the radio.

I have to mention lullabies. I have sung my share for our children. It's a wonderful opportunity to spend a few minutes (or an hour and a half) with a little one before they go to sleep.
I almost sang myself to sleep singing children's-, Disney -, and Christmas songs. Yes, Christmas song make great lullabies.
The most effective lullabies were "Stay Awake" and "Feed the Birds" both from Mary Poppins. Those two made my children go to sleep.

But don't try this experiment:
A few weeks ago I tried to make up a new lullaby while driving in the car. I got really drowsy. I yawned and wanted to go to sleep. Not good when driving. Don't do that.

Today's water color is of a bear going to sleep, probably waiting for someone to sing to him.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


About 7 am every weekday morning, Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, and I go out to get the newspaper. On days when the sky is not completely covered with clouds we see a bright light on the heavens straight ahead. It is a reminder of a Christmas star, a guiding light, and a Liahona.
But what is it really that we see?

My father was an avid astronomy enthusiast. He had many books on stars and planet. He read them, especially at night, while he ate a banana and drank a glass of milk. He would bring me outside on crisp winter evenings when the sky was covered with stars. Even the Milky Way was visible. He would point and explain - and I loved listening to him.

It's Venus that we see. It's called the Evening Star when it's visible after sunset and the Morning Star when we see it before sunrise.

Venus is the second planet from the sun and sixth largest. Second only to the moon in brightness at night, the terrestrial planet is a sister to our earth because of its gravity and substance. It can even cast shadows at night

Named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, Venus is the only planet named after a female. Renaissance artist .Botticelli painted his most famous painting of the Birth of Venus and another one called Venus and Mars (Beauty and Valour) - not to be mistaken for Paul McCartney and the Wings fourth album with the same title.

So we all have our passions - things we get really excited about, something that makes us want to put things aside and just delve into. This post today features two of mine. Art History and Astronomy. What are some of yours?

I want to bring Arnfinn outside on a cold January night - with sleeping bags, tons of clothes, and hot chocolate - and look at the stars and learn more. Sounds like a perfect date to me.

I gave Arnfinn a constellation a few years ago. Just like that. It's called Cassiopeia. It looks like a "W" and since I nickname him Waldemar (or Wally) I found it appropriate. If you want to learn more about stars and planets, click on the link. It's fun. I bet, most astronomers don't know that my husband is the owner of one of the famous constellations.

Today's photos: Two photos of Venus and a detail of Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus".

Monday, October 29, 2012


The trailer for the new James Bond movie had an interesting word in it. The villain asks 007 what his hobby is and he answers resurrection.
Resurrection is a very religious word in my head, thoughts of Christianity and beliefs come to mind.
Renaissance, rebirth, renewal are synonyms.

Some evenings when I go to bed , I am so glad the day is done. I am happy to go to sleep and be finished with that day and look forward to a new day. Kind of a resurrection, isn't it?

The day misspent, 
the love misplaced,
has inside it
the seed of redemption.
Nothing is exempt
from resurrection. 

Kay Ryan

I have always loved the age of renaissance, the art, the time in history, the rebirth of ideas.
Not always easy in everyday life to think of rebirth of ideas. I struggle with questions like: What on earth should I make for dinner? I try to ask Arnfinn now and then of he has ideas or wishes, but he usually throws the ball back in my courtyard.

What to make today? I have no idea yet, but I hope it will come to me soon so that I can be prepared when I go Monday shopping with my girls.

Hector is very good at resurrection. Every morning he is just as energetic. Me today - (breathing out) - very tired from a busy weekend. Could need some energy rebirth today, then maybe get tickets for the new James Bond movie.

Today's water color is called "Black Swan".

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Truth about Ghosts

In one aspect, yes, I believe in ghosts, but we create them. We haunt ourselves.
Laurie Halse Anderson

Ghosts . . . something scary, something we don't know or understand enough about.
I believe we can create our own ghost, like this author above explains. And I don't mean cutting out funny ghost-like creatures with smiley faces for Halloween. I have done that and been criticized for demonic decorations with evil design.

But not being kind to ourselves, putting ourselves down, telling ourselves we are of little worth and don't amount to much in this wonderful world - now that's haunting ourselves. I believe many of us have been there, some of us will continue to be in that place from time to time - when a day is grayer than it's supposed to be and it seems like the sun will never again emerge from behind the thick clouds.

I believe in truth. I believe in speaking the truth with love.

St. Augustine, (born 354) a philosopher, theologian and one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all times said:
The truth is like a lion. You don't have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.

How can we be honest and speak the truth to ourselves? The truth is that we are children of God, loved by Him. We have been given talents to use, talents to bring joy to others and ourselves. We have been given the ability to love, to grow, to learn.

I will still hang up my funny ghosts this Halloween. They are not scary, but a reminder of fun celebrations and making memories that brighten those gray days.

After all - the truth is, I'm not that serious.

Art History: St Augustine by Philippe de Champaigne painted 1645-1650.
My Lamb and Lion - oil on canvas.
My Daniel in the Lion's Den - oil on canvas

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mimmi and Bestefar are open.

Anya came by with the children Saturday morning. I invited them over for eggs and bacon - a hearty breakfast - though Anya called it lunch since Scott had been up since 04:30 am. It's hard that transition from taking naps during the day to lasting until evening without falling asleep in the car on the way home from the grocery store or dipping a sleepy head onto the dinner plate. Scott had fallen asleep much too early the day before.

I think he was worried that he had to go to preschool, because when they approached our house he firmly told his mother: "Preschool is closed. Mimmi (grandma) and Bestefar (grandpa) are open!"

I am so happy that he considers us, his grandparents, open. I would like the Duck and Cherry to always be open to these wonderful grandchildren. More than that I want our hearts to always be open to them. They are our sunbeams and joy.

My parents had an open house and open hearts, always welcoming people to come and visit and stay for a day or a month or more. They fed their visitors, listened and cared. They were always open.

In our lives there are things we open up to and others that we close the door for. I tend to shut out people I do not trust. Life is too short to spend on occasions and people that are out to get you. Choose the  good part. Choose the uplifting and positive.

Today's water color shows a little girl in an open door.

Monday, October 15, 2012


 ReviewI remember reading the book Pollyanna by Eleanore H. Porter when I was a young girl.

The orphan Pollyanna is sent to live with her austere and pessimistic aunt, who hopes that putting the little girl in a barren attic room will not disrupt the quiet everyday routines of her household.

But the happy and cheerful girl will do much more than disrupt her aunt schedule. She will not only turn her aunt's world upside down, but have an influence on the whole town as well.

Pollyanna plays the glad game - and she is good at it.

The story has had such an effect on people that a syndrome called the Pollyanna Principle or Pollyanaism was created in 1978 and describes the infectious optimism and tendency to agree with positivism. The classic book about the resourceful and courageous Pollyanna has been rated five stars and is well loved.

"Oh, but Aunt Polly, Aunt Polly, you haven't left me any time at all just to—to live."
"To live, child! What do you mean? As if you weren't living all the time!"
"Oh, of course I'd be BREATHING all the time I was doing those things, Aunt Polly, but I wouldn't be living. You breathe all the time you're asleep, but you aren't living. I mean living—doing the things you want to do: playing outdoors, reading (to myself, of course), climbing hills, talking to Mr. Tom in the garden, and Nancy, and finding out all about the houses and the people and everything everywhere all through the perfectly lovely streets I came through yesterday. That's what I call living, Aunt Polly. Just breathing isn't living!"
(Quote from "Pollyanna" by Eleanor H. Porter) 

Sometimes I long for my childhood, having my parents there, being under their loving care, and reading fun books like Pollyanna. But I can still read those books. And better yet, I have read good books to my children as they were growing up and now I can read to my grandchildren.

Today's photo is a Pollyanna book cover and a water color called "Shelter Before the Storm".

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Bookmarks. I like bookmarks. Is that a little strange?
Me drooling over pretty bookmarks at the store - Linnea says, "Mamma, you don't need another bookmark."
But I do.
I like to have a bookmark that matches the book I read. (That sentence just gave away that I have more than one or two bookmarks.) I love to read and different bookmarks are an added little pleasure when I open the book.

So to have a variety, I make my own. I bought a laminating machine a few years ago. What a fun thing. I laminate many things, including bookmarks.

One day I laminated 80-some bookmarks for a women's convention. Arnfinn shakes his head. He would never have come up with that idea....He is a little worried I might laminate him one day.

I still like to buy a pretty bookmark in a store and love it when I get one as a gift.

This Saturday morning Arnfinn wakes me up to say he's ready to go.
Me, my usual sleepy-confused in the morning, "Where are you going?"
He patient, knowing I actually know, but too tired to register, "I'm off to the car wash to get it ready for polishing today."
Hector jumps on my bed and I know sleepy time is over.

Oh, that's right. Today we polish car.
I get up and Arnfinn has a lovely fire going in the fireplace in the living room. What a sweetheart.

Maybe I can get in a few minutes of reading before he returns from the car wash.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In an autumn tree

I brought the grandchildren and Abigail Thompson out for a walk yesterday. The lovely autumn sunshine was golden and gently warmed the crisp air.

Who is Abigail Thompson? Look at the picture and see if you can find her. She lives here at The Duck and Cherry with all her many witch friends.

Abigail Thompson gets to have her photo on my cell phone and as we only had a summer photo where she stands between the herbs in the garden, it was time for a photo session among the colorful leaves.

Scott got to sit on a branch of a tree and was very proud of himself.

When my mother was little she would climb trees to suntan.
"Why did you do that?" I asked her.
"So that I would be closer to the sun," was her reply.

Scott was just excited to sit in a tree. He has just been on vacation to "Macalocca" and did not feel the need for any more suntanning for a while.

Blog about Abigail Thompson and her friends will be coming shortly.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Calendar Pursuit

I have a thing for calendars.

When my children were little and finally snoozed off in their beds, I got out my calendar and could sit for the longest time looking at days and dates, planning and dreaming of things to do.

Today I ordered three. Three calendars? How much planning am I intending to do over the next few months?

This is it. I have a kitchen calendar for all my everyday planning, then another one goes in the office, then the third was just a pretty one that I thought would be inspirational throughout the next year. I am not even sure where to hang that one yet.

But besides all the inspirational and pretty stuff, a calendar is very useful. I have one on my cell phone too - but it's practical - a word that sounds dull to me.

Every Monday evening Arnfinn and I get out our calendars and plan the week. He sits with his laptop. I go and get my pretty kitchen calendar, which this year is The Warmth of Home by Deb Strain.

I have gone through many calendar over the years with paintings of Swedish artist Carl Larsson, American Folk Artist Will Moses, Donald Zolan, and many more. Some pictures I have used after the end of the year, and the calendars with all the appointments and activities throughout the year are great for referring to when updating my personal journal.

I often say: "If it's not on my calendar, it will not get done!" I'm dependant on a helpmate in remembering all the week's fun things to do. We all have a system for how we function in everyday life. A small book in my purse is not for me. Everything on my laptop is still not enough. I want it to be pretty as well, and will continue scribbling on my beautiful and inspirational kitchen calendar.

It's storming and raining outside. Proper autumn weather. Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, has gone into his cage voluntarily and is resting on his warm blanket. I have put 17th of November on my kitchen calendar for the next art exhibition. I will present new fairies, lighthouses, and much more then.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Autumn's Splendor

Autumn was my dear mother's favorite season. I understand her. Once I give in and admit that summer is passé, I get into the fall mode and thoroughly enjoy the crisp air, the colors, and the beauty of nature.

Arnfinn and I spent a few days at our cabin last week. We brought work there and spent a few hours working each day and a few hours for lovely walks in the amazing autumn splendor.

I would like to share a few of the photos from our trip.

Hector was his usual mud-loving dog and turned into the not so wheaten-colored Terrier. Fortunately, he was smart enough (or obedient enough to our commands) to take a bath afterwards in a small mountain lake. I was reminded that we love hearts more than the outside of both people and animals.

My immediate reaction was: "Arnfinn, that dog is sleeping in your bed tonight!" Even though Hector gets really dirty when he decides to lie down in puddles of mud on our walks, we have to laugh at him. He's such a mud-puppy. Anyway, it washes off.

I wish all people on the earth could experience a walk in the mountains at any season of the year. God's nature seems to unfold up there and feelings of thankfulness and joy come easily.

For some reason, I always feel more creative in the fall. Is it the colors, the leaves swirling around, the darker evenings and cooler weather, the candlelight and hot chocolate? I'm not sure. It's just observations of how it is.