Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pheasants and other passions

I really love birds! It's a joy and passion for me, for some strange reason I cannot explain.
I love seeing their little footprints in the snow, hear them sing in the morning, and watch them as they pluck for seeds and worms on the ground.
I have painted many birds and will probably continue doing that.
My things for fairies and witches is also a winged experience. Maybe it's all about wings? I don't know, but there you have it. Another true confession from me.
So - a few minutes ago, the beautiful pheasant on the photo to the left here, sat outside my window where I sit to write and paint. I hear him and his madame all the time, and I have seen her a lot lately. They are some of my finest neighbors and I am thrilled he actually came to visit today.
I am fascinated by birds, their color and their vocation. I find it interesting that contrary to humans, with birds it is the man who dresses up in colorful feathers. Arnfinn tells me that the female needs to sit unnoticed on her eggs. That makes good sense to me.
The water color painting above on the right, is called "Betatt", which means "smitten". The male peacock sees her go by and opens his feathers to make himself attractive and interesting for her.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Four legged neighbors

We welcome the herd of sheep on the neighboring parcel. They have already been sheared and are happily grazing in the wooded area next to The Duck and Cherry.
When I was little and our family lived in Canada, the neighbor's goats escaped and came to visit us. Not only did they jump on the car, they ran inside the house and chewed on bed sheets and anything they found interesting. My mother had quite a time trying to get the critters back outside.
We may often have opinions about our neighbors and how they go about their daily affairs. Is their hedge too high? Do they put garbage out causing rats to gather? Do they mow the lawn or use their chain saw on peaceful Sundays? Do they accuse you of moving land marks?
On Saturday I received an anonymous letter in the mailbox. It was rude and unfriendly, a threat letter written by someone who is afraid of dogs, thinking Hector (who is always on a leash if he is outside) will come and attack them. Poor people, they don't know that he is a cuddly teddy bear born with a deep voice.
But the letter has upset me and made me sad. There may be things we don't like about our neighbors' conduct, and I have experienced all the questions above around our neighborhood. Nevertheless, I am convinced that writing anonymous threat letters should not be the solution. I actually like our neighbors!
The sheep next to our house say "bah, bah". I am so glad they don't say "Bah humbug", because I like them, their happy presence, noise and all!

Today's photo was taken this morning from our veranda.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Me woman!

My hutch and buffet in the living room has two shelves filled with Russian matryoshkas, you know the wooden dolls, painted and with many smaller dolls inside.
They are a fun show and tell for both young and old who visit at The Duck and Cherry.
We are a lot like wooden dolls. Inside we have layers of different pictures, different talents, various moods.
I gave a talk yesterday for a birthday celebration for the Relief Society (170 year old women's organization) in Tønsberg. I said I was comfortable in the role as a women. I don't want to be a man. As a woman we are daughters of God, we care for each other, we take care of house and home, we get to dress up, be unpredictable and become the heart of the home.
My mother was the heart of my childhood home. When she passed away, the home was never the same. It seemed empty.
Even though I sometimes think man and woman are two different animals, I am grateful that Arnfinn is different from me. He is handsome and brave and his feet are solidly planted on the ground, while mine seem to take flight and flutter in the air. I don't always like to be pulled back down on the ground, but now and then it might be necessary.

Today's water color is of a courageous American bald eagle, a wonderful bird to paint.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A candle for every occasion

My father lit a candle at every meal. He told us it was to show that we were grateful for the food.
I have tried to continue this beautiful tradition. candles are ever present at the Duck and Cherry.
We lived in Okinawa, Japan for three years. During typhoon season we always had to make sure we were stocked with enough food, water - and candles. Preparedness was vital. One typhoon knocked out the electricity. The window shutters kept any light out, also during the day, so candles were a necessity.
I experienced a saleswoman at the door in Mississippi many years ago who asked me: "What are all the candles for? (as if my apartment was covered with them). I answered: "I light them!" I don't know if she thought they were ritual, but remembering to be thankful is ritual enough.
Candles are used as a symbol of our testimonies in the Scriptures as well. We are asked to light our candle and hold it high, not to cover it, but show it forth for everyone to see.

My father had buckets of candles when he passed away many years ago. I still use them. They help me think of a man who was grateful for many things in life.

Today's water color is part of a pictures I painted of little birds happily picking seeds thrown on the snow.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday morning joys!

What's this thing about Monday morning blues?
I happen to think that Monday's are wonderful. It's a new chance, a new beginning. I don't want to do last week over again, it really was not one of my favorite weeks.
I, like many others, don't think all days are just as good, so I often enjoy the thought of a new day and a new week.
The ground outside the Duck and Cherry was covered with round white balls this morning - hail. Strange. And here I actually believed in spring, but I haven't given up yet. It will come!
I have thought a lot about people who inspire me lately. These are people in my everyday life, family and friends. When I think about their dedication to serving others, to share their time and talents, to love without expecting anything in return, I am grateful for the privilege of knowing such people. My job is to be teachable, so that I may learn from their examples.

Today's painting is in oil and shows a winter wash.
Monday (in addition to several more days in the week) has always been laundry day at the Duck and Cherry.
A few years ago Arnfinn and I made a trip through Amish areas in the eastern US states. They also wash clothes on Mondays. It was a wonderful sight as we passed their farms along the way.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Do self!

I have always been the kind of girl who says: "I'll do it myself!" Not always very smart, but it gets things done, and my way.
I am not good at asking for help, not good at delegating responsibility, not good at sitting down to let others do the job.
So, is that good or bad? I'm not sure. It can be both, I guess.
My problem now is that Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, is following in my footsteps.
This morning I felt a cold in the living room as I was sitting here happy tapping away on my laptop. I went to see if I had left a window open, only to find that the front door was wide open and my dog was happily walking himself! I called him, with a piece of dog candy in my hand, and he returned, very, very happy. I had not walked him yet, but now he has taken care of it himself.
Clever dog? Yes, nice that he is already "walked", but not good that he has to take charge himself.
He even opened the bathroom door one day, which comes out into the room (he jumped on the handle and used his paw to pry the door open) to get in to see Arnfinn one day.

Today's water color is my latest fairy, and a boy this time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Japanese morning greetings

Do you have mornings when you wonder if it is really a good morning?
Is it possible that good mornings are a state of mind? If every morning was the same, it could happen that life would get boring.
Mornings can be affected by lack of sleep, illness, worries...
But I still believe that many mornings can be good if we want them to be.
When I was little and rounded the corner of the kitchen in my childhood home, my father would say: "Light jumps and bird chatter!" What on earth that really meant, is hard to say, but it gave me the feeling every time, that mornings were good.
The thing is, we tend to see and hear things differently here at the Duck and Cherry. In the early morning hours in spring and summer the birds are happily chirping in the trees outside the bedroom window. I will say: "Oh, how lovely to hear the birds. It makes me happy," and I drowse off to sleep again. While my handsome husband will say: "That horrible bird noise keeps me awake."
Sometimes when we wake up I try to greet Arnfinn in one of the few morning greetings I know in different languages. My favorite is Ohayo gazaimasu (Japanese). It sounds so cheerful and makes me feel good just saying it.
I like slow mornings, no stress mornings. Not always easy to do, but it makes my day much, much better.

Today's water color shows a little fairy, who has fallen asleep in a bird's nest.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Magic wand on my wish list

Today I would like a magic wand!
The word "spring cleaning" comes to mind a lot lately, and I cannot dismiss it. I have started and keep encouraging myself to the fun of it and how wonderful it feels after it's done. At least the latter rings true.
But it is spring, my favorite time of year. Spring in Norway is special as the four season are so varied. Spring brings trickling streams of melted snow, buds of spring flowers popping up in ditches in the early sun, birdsong early in the morning....I love it.
Hector has already found the puddles and jumps happily in them when we go for walks.
So now after some Chiax, a shake and two small chocolate brownies(??!!) (yes, you read that right), I am ready for this day.
My to-do list now also entails outdoor chores. Bushes and apple trees need cutting and pruning, and my herbal patch needs total renovation this spring. I won't be without things to do, but I never am.
My own proverb "It is better to be busy, than to be bored" is especially true in springtime.
So - if I had a magic wand, I would have more time to write and paint. It would be hilarious to swing it around and say magic words or wriggle my nose. Time saving, yes!
I will just have to pretend I have one for now. That's fun too.

Today's drawing I did along with an article for a genealogical magazine. It shows spring cleaning the office of genealogical papers to bring "chi" into the room.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The vocabulary of a large dog

I am looking and searching....Where did it go? What am I rambling on about? Spring!! It's totally white outside the Duck and Cherry today! Startet yesterday. Last night I walked Hector for an hour in the white, fluffy stuff. He loved it. Arnfinn loves it, too. But then again Arnfinn is all about skiing, skiing. I must say I am only semi-excited. Yes, it's cleaner, no dirty paws, but....I was starting to enjoy seeing the ground and looking forward to spring.
Oh well, I haven't given up yet. Shoveling snow in front of the house this morning was not really what I had in mind for today.
One lady on our walk yesterday had two large dogs on a leash. One of them was busy doing what dogs do on walks, the other started barking towards Hector as we passed. The lady bent down and firmly said: "Now, that is not appropriate behavior. Manners! Manners!"
I had a hard time staying quiet, the giggles formed in my throat and almost burst out of my mouth. Does her dog really know the word "manners"? Maybe her dog is much smarter than mine. I don't think Hector knows that word. His vocabulary is not that large. But he knows the important words like food, walk, sit....He will never be a great orator, but that's not why I bought him.

Today's water color fairy collects snow crystals.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Kiss on a Stick

We have heard tales of monkeys and how they thrive from getting hugs. Even though I don't agree with Darwin, I must admit that people are the same. We need hugs!
I have seen how elderly people who live alone are happy just to shake someones hand, and if you give them a hug, they light up. Physical contact is important to the human race.
I tried to remedy this need one time I was really sick. Arnfinn did not want me anywhere close in fear of catching whatever I had. So I drew a kiss on a piece of paper and glued it on the point of a long stick and poked it towards him. I thought that giving him an imaginary kiss would help me feel better. He smiled, and I knew then that my plan had worked. He has the "bestest" smiling wrinkles and his smiles always makes me feel better, so I guess it worked.
Even if you're in a hurry, a smile, a hug, a kiss is certainly not a waste of time. In fact, it can make your day so much better.

Today's water color is called "Hønserypa", and shows a very interested rooster, looking at the cute little hen.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Use it up, wear it out

My mint green bicycle woke up from winter's slumber a couple of days ago. Arnfinn puts our bicycles in the house for the winter. "Keeps the tires in good shape," he says, and he is usually right about things like that. I tell him that if he takes as good care of me as he does our things, I will last for all eternity.
The mint green bicycle and I rode to town and back. It was wonderful and fresh.
I love the old saying: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." Call me old-fashioned, but I like to have things last for a while. I find it unnecessary to buy "the latest" of everything. Seems to me a waste of money if what you have works well.
My cell phone is a good example of that. I inherited Arnfinn's several years ago. It may in fact be from WWII, but it still works - most of the time. I realize that the time has come to renew it, and now that it's becoming a necessity, I am looking forward to a newer updated phone.
My friend Cathrine - who now is family, because our children were married in January, has a website about provident living at Fremtidsrettet livsførsel. She also blogs about recycling at, what it is like to learn to have a lifestyle where she makes do with what she has, having a storage and reupholstering furniture, painting old chairs etc. Very inspirational to me.

Today's water color reminds me of making a quilt for Sean, when he was little. It was blue and the pieces were cut from older clothes and materials I already had .