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".