Thursday, January 31, 2013

Me and Dr Oz

I had my antioxidant-level checked yesterday. You may have seen Dr. Oz on Oprah presenting a whole audience with different colored T-shirts, showing their level of antioxidants. I was not on that show . . . but Michaela measured me with a Biophotonic Scanner right here in our dining room at the Duck and Cherry.
Dr Oz's level is higher than mine, but I was pleased with the result.

Well, I was thinking, since my antioxidant-level was quite high, all the dark chocolate I eat must be paying off! Working with health foods for seven years has been a great help in knowing which supplements we should take in our home. I am grateful for that. Besides, I need to keep up with our clever children who know much more about healthy living than what I did at their age.

As a personal confession, I have come to the conclusion that I am at an age where it is alright to wisely spend a little time and money on a healthy, happy body. I want my munchkins and children to enjoy their mimmi a while longer.

There are fun ways of exercising for a person like me who does not thrive in the gym. And running is not my thing either. I am married to a man who in spite of his age and short legs can outrun most people we know--young or old. He is amazing that way.
So what to do in everyday life to keep a body moving?
Stairs were planned in the design when building the Duck and Cherry 18 years ago, so that I had to run up and down many times a day. Dancing is fun, and now Zumba. Walking Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, is great for both exercise and fresh air. Then there's the occasional skiing in winter and hiking or riding my bike in the summer. Still, I feel like my friends who regularly visit the local gyms are much better than me.
For the time being I am happy with where I'm at. That must count for something?

There are more ways to exercise. In this easy-techno world I like to learn phone numbers by heart. Just pushing buttons does not work the brain as much as memorizing names and numbers.
Then there's exercising talents. One of my favorites is painting.

Today's water colors are randomly chosen; a detail from a fantasy lighthouse painting, an American bald eagle, and Landegode Lighthouse by Bodø, Norway.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Snowy Winter

Did you know that even the fiercest winter melts by spring?
We are blessed with the bright and pure whiteness of snow this winter. It's beautiful and serene.

Arnfinn gave a wonderful talk about "Thankfulness" at church yesterday.
Being grateful motivates our lives and brings joy to ourselves and those around us.

So why am I grateful for a snowy winter? Here are some reasons:

  • Clean paws on Hector, the Wheaten Terrier
  • the beauty of the landscape
  • our munchkins' joy about sledding and playing in the white stuff
  • memories of childhood
  • starry nights
  • the light evenings reflected by snowy blankets on the ground on evenings when I walk Hector
  • Arnfinn's childish thrill about cross country skiing

I will however also be grateful when spring, my favorite season, finally arrives.

Today's water color is a wintry scene painted many years ago and a photo of my boys out skiing.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dance away

It's a cold winter in the kingdom of Norway.

My fingers are cold as I sit happily tapping them on my computer. Hopefully dancing back and forth across the keyboard will warm them up eventually. I have Perry Como singing in the background, so my fingers should easily be able to move their little tips to good music.

Growing up I was not allowed to dance or go to dance schools. My grandmother's strict opinion about right and wrong also reflected the way my parents raised me. As a goodly rebel I signed up for Ballroom dance classes as a seventeen year old starting my education at Brigham Young University. I tried out for the Ballroom Dance Team there and made it. I didn't mind the 6:00 am practices before classes in the morning, nor the practices and local competition in the evenings. Rehearsals for tours and larger competitions could acquire up to eight hours of practice a day. It was fun, healthy, and educational.

Last night as Arnfinn and I babysat two of our grandchildren munchkins, the beautiful little 3-year old threatened to jump on the table if I did not provide more grapes. They had already had two helpings and when I ignored her plea, she and her little brother climbed on the kitchen table and danced. They laughed and moved their little bodies to imaginary music. Safely on the floor again, they had danced their cravings away and were satisfied and OK with getting ready for bed.
Dancing obviously does more than exercise our bodies.

I have watched many old black and white Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly movies. Their talents and performances were astounding. Today I enjoy So you think you can dance. Dancing is fun to do, but also great to watch.

Today's water color is a detail from a poster made for a church dance.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A "Swimming" Living Room Dream

Arnfinn and I ate cake in a most amazing living room yesterday.Our neighbors have transformed their indoor swimming hall to a living room extraordinaire. The high-vaulted ceiling added space and light, there were large windows, even a lovely bay window, two large chandeliers, and beautiful large paintings. Two of my own painting hung there, too.

As we walked home on the cold, crisp snow I told Arnfinn that we needed a room like that to accommodate our large family for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and days like that. "I think we should build an addition like that onto our house," I said teasingly.
"You just need to sell a lot of books first," he replied, flashing the boyish smile that I love so much about him.

Oh, well--it's great to dream. Without dreams, how can dreams come true?

For now, I truly enjoy our quaint little living room with old and new furniture, paintings by my dad and myself, Russian matryoshkas, my collection of witches, Poppy the parakeet, and a cozy fireplace.
Suits us just fine, but if we can come and eat cake with the neighbors now and then in their beautiful high-ceiling room, that's great too.

I'm tired today and today's water color shows a cute teddy on a soft pillow. Looks wonderful, tempting.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Lion in My Dream

Like many of you, I have the strangest dreams. Maybe I shouldn't predict that you all have weird dreams, too - I am just guessing.

The other night I dreamed that Arnfinn and I drove around in our neighborhood in a large white van. I stopped the car and opened up the back door. Inside I had a large lion, the size of a tiger, really. It was big.
I had it on a leash and it jumped out ready to go for a walk.
The lion was strong, rambunctious, and prone to eating small dogs strolling along with their owners.
I tried to explain to Arnfinn that it might be a good idea to get rid of the lion and have a smaller dog instead, one that wouldn't eat other's pets or almost tear off my arm with it's strength.

But Arnfinn wouldn't hear of it. "No," he said. "We are keeping the lion."

Often when I wake up, I analyze my dreams. Many dreams are easy to understand, especially the kind about insecurity or fear.

This dream I don't really understand. Do any of you readers get it? I am often pulled along by a strong Hector, though his thick woolen coat is different from that of a lion. I am stricter with Hector than Arnfinn is. Maybe these are some elements.

Another night I dreamed that Sean and I were in the back of a van with a large ferocious lion, but I was not afraid. Hmmm. Very strange.

Today's art are three oil paintings I did in the eighties.

1. Daniel in the Lion's Den
2. Lamb and Lion (Peace)
3. Millenium (Tiffany with animals)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Creative Ancestors

My 9th great-grandfather, Wyllem Coucheron, who arrived on the shores of the kingdom of Norway in 1657 was a map designer and officer. He was given the task of designing the fortress in Halden, in southern Norway and  create the town structure of the neighboring town of Fredrikstad, which is now called "gamlebyen". He was an architect, an engineer, and a creative man.

That I have ancestors like that makes me happy. I believe it's true that traits and talents are inherited through the generations. My father was the most creative person I have ever met. He always had a homemade solution and an idea. He was also an architect, like Wyllem, a contractor, furniture and kitchen cabinet maker, a garden designer, a carpenter, a musician, an inventor of great ideas, and an excellent artist. Hundreds of oil paintings and pen and ink drawings he made - now decorating homes in several countries.

But he was at a loss when it came to technical or mechanical problems. And languages he struggled with. I used to laugh at how he made foreign words harder to pronounce than they really were.

Today I am proud when Arnfinn says, "That's a Bertran Eljarbø type of idea." Be it, that I find a clothes' hanger to keep the window open on stormy nights or an broomstick to use as a clothes' rack. I like hearing that I am following my dad's inventive ways.

Is heritage important? Do we feel like we belong to a lineage, to our forefathers? I like the idea that I love my mother, she loved hers, and so on. It makes me feel like we are all tied together in a special bond.

Linnea and Michael chose to have their wedding party in an old 17th century building in gamlebyen designed by her 10th great-grandfather (the one above). It is on Wyllem Coucheron Street, named for the man who worked there so many years ago

Today's art is not mine, but paintings by my father. Enjoy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Conversing with a Dog

Communication between myself and my Wheaten Terrier:

"Hector, are you hungry?"
Hector appearing suddenly out of wherever he is sleeping or doing mischief. He looks at me with large eyes and occasionally licks his mouth.

"Hector, do you want to go for a walk?"
Hector jumps and skips around the room with an exhilarated, keyed-up look on his face. Absolutely always willing. He never ever says no, bless him.

"Hector, let go!"
Hector backs up with a rag between his teeth, or a pen, or some nonsense thing he has picked up to get my attention. He runs around the living room table until I command "in place", then runs around may legs and sits down on my left side and lets me have whatever he has stolen.

A cat crosses the road on our walk:
"Hector, please don't pull. It's so icy and it hurts if I fall down. I am much older than you. You have short legs and you are only 2 years old, or fourteen counting my type of years. You are much more limber and flexible than I am."
Hector turns around and looks at me and continues pulling until I growl like a mama bear, then he decides to walk nicely next to me. (I am speaking from experience - see blog about summersaults on the ice)

On the other hand, sometimes he starts the conversation:

"Aooooh", he says, sounding like a small wolf.
"Yes, Hector," I say. "I know you're hungry, but I can't feed you every time you want something. You'd be rolling down the hill if I did." Finally he gives up and curls up into a ball on the floor.

Hector stands next to me and puts his paw on my foot.
I used to think he was cute, wanting to stand close to me. But no. He is widening his territory saying, "I am big and I demand this space and more."

Hector jumps on the door handle outside. I open the door and he backs off a few meters and looks at me, then eyes a bush next to the door, then looks back at me again. This he repeats a few more times. He has a favorite bush he likes to hide treasures under. treasures like small bones and treats I give him (see blog about Hector as The Treasure Hunter) and wants to tell me about it.

The problem with having a super social dog is that he wants to greet everyone who passes the Duck and Cherry. "Helloooo" sounds like a loud, angry bark to some.
"Please, Hector," I say, "humans don't think barking is as cool as you believe it is."
This I may have to repeat a million more times. Hector has not yet understood what I am saying.

These are a few examples of interesting conversation I have with our dog. He is a handful, but adorable and very sweet.

Photos of Duck and Cherry's Hector, two-year old Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Don't Kill Time

"What are you doing?"
"Oh, you know, just killing time."

What a horrible thing to say. Who would want to kill time--the days we have been given to experience growth and learning, to enjoy nature and beautiful people, to fail and fall and get up, to feel love in the utmost corners of the heart?

Boredom is not something I suffer from. There's always something to do, a project to take hold of, and a family member or friend who need encouragement. Time is too precious, too valuable to be wasted.

The idea of what wasting time really is varies from person to person. What I find important on my daily schedule might differ from what another person thinks they should do. And that's the beauty of it. Variety is the spice of life. We all have different talents, health, strengths and weaknesses. But apart from all that, everyone is given 24 hours each day.

My two-year old grandson, Scott, claims he is busy when his mother asks him to do something. I smile and wonder, Where could he have learned to say that? At least he's busy and not wasting time.

Linnea has a blog called Pursuit of Elephants. Her last entry about procrastination was a reminder to me of how special every day is and that someday should be today.

In Ecclesiastes chapter 3 we can read:

 To every thing there is a aseason, and a btime to every purpose under the heaven: atime to be born, and a time to bdie; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;A time to weep, and a time to alaugh; a time to bmourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;A time to aget, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;A time to arend, and a time to sew; a time to keep bsilence, and a time to speak;A time to love, and a time to ahate; a time of war, and a time of peace.What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein healaboureth?10 I have seen the atravail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be bexercised in it.11 He hath made every thing abeautiful in his time: also he bhathset the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the cworkthat God maketh from the beginning to the end.12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do agood in his life.13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the agift of God.14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be afor bever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should cfear before him. 15 That which hath been is anow; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.16 ¶And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment,that awickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, thatiniquity was there.17 I said in mine heart, God shall ajudge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. 18 I said in mine heart concerning the aestate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are bbeasts. 19 For that which abefalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.20 All go unto one place; all are of the adust, and all turn to dust again.21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own aworks; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

Take time for the good things in your life today. What do you want to build your life on and which traits and what knowledge do you want to bring along?

Today's water colors are wintry scenes, just like the days we enjoy outside the Duck and Cherry now.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Hedgehog Chronicles

You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.
Khalil Gibran
The author of The Prophet was born on this day in 1883.

Do you agree with the above statement?
I thought about it and came to the conclusion that I often speak when I am at peace with my thoughts.
Don't we often speak to comfort others, to teach our children, to enjoy conversation with a loved one, to get to know a new friend? Even speaking to ourselves can be comforting, especially because we can get just the answers you want.

I remember one day when I was growing up, I was upset about something and closed the room to my door. After a while, my father knocked on the door and asked if I wanted to talk.
I have thought about that episode many times. Maybe because I rarely get upset, but most of all because I felt my father was wise and loving when he invited me to talk with him.

The written word is also a way of talking. And a fun and satisfying way that is.
I have two porcupines that I place on a manuscript to keep the papers from flying off. It's a mother and child and they don't only serve as paper weights, but give me good feelings as well.

Arnfinn looked at them one day and named my pile of papers "The Hedgehog Chronicles". The poor man is definitely under the influence of a woman who names things around her and even speaks to them.
But I loved the name  - and it will stay.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Where do your tracks lead?

The funniest little things can bring a smile on my face.
I love seeing bird prints in the snow. Those little pointed toes and the thought of how they have wandered around, exploring, looking for food, taking in the scenery.I don't know all the things little birds do when they walk on the ground. Some birds seem to enjoy walking, running, and jumping. And I like watching them.

Outside Linnea and Michael's apartment the other day I took these two photos of bird tracks in the snow. In one area the bird had not really decided where to go and in the other place it clearly had a sense of direction.
It got me thinking:

Whose tracks do you follow?
Where do your own tracks lead?

Is it important? I believe so and it matters to me. I have had many great examples to follow in my life and as I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a friend, I take it seriously where I go -- and which tracks I leave behind me.

I would like to be like the bird with the determined foot prints going straight ahead, with goals and a purpose.  I spend a lot of time going in circles, too - and it feels good to get a little further down the road.