Wednesday, February 26, 2014


When I was little, my pappa would kiss my eyelids and thank me for the many smiles I had given him that day. I felt loved.

Even though there have been times in my life when my smile was under pressure and needed a little more encouragement to surface, I usually have days with many smiles. I have even had someone tell me not to smile when he was was talking to me.

Who hasn't wrung their face, made goo-goo sounds, and jumped up and down just to experience the joy of a baby's smile? It's priceless and prescious. That little toothless mouth, chubby cheeks, and eyes that disappear into a thin concave line is happiness beyond description. The smiles of my children and my grandchildren have repaired me time and again. has a page with Healthy Aging tips with 10 good reasons to smile, saying smiling is a fun way to live longer.
(For more detail on each tip, please visit their page.)

1. Smiling Makes Us Attractive

2. Smiling Changes Our Mood
3. Smiling Is Contagious

4. Smiling Relieves Stress

5. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System

6. Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure

7. Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin

8. Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger

9. Smiling Makes You Seem Successful

10. Smiling Helps You Stay Positive

When it comes to romance--and I am a girl who doesn't think romance is silly or old-fashioned--a smile can wipe away tears, blow away dark clouds, and make us run extra miles. I love my husband's smile. It make me very, very happy.

The Dating Divas have fun sayings and posters to encourage healthy, happy relationships. You find them on Facebook and on their webpage
Here are some of them:

"Thought you should know, I'm wearing the smile you gave me."

"I like when you smile, and I love to be the reason."


Photo: This has got to be one of my very favorite things about my hubby.  What's yours?

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Whimsical Art


I have had my art called whimsical. I have had people--not one or two or three, but more--say that the Amy Adams' character, Giselle, in the Disney movie, "Enchanted", is me.

What can I say? I love fairy tales, enchanted forests, castles and knights in shining armor. My Pinterest boards will show you that and also fairies, magical shoes, witches and damsells in distress. One of my water color Christmas fairies has been repinned many times.

Someone whimsical is often curious and quizzical, but can also be peculiar and unpredictable.

I just like the sound of the word itself. It is a happy word that makes my imagination wander.

What makes some of us enjoy playful things, fanciful creatures, and quaint places? I say some of us, because not everyone is into whimsical. And even the same item can leave two people with two totally different interpretations.

Two of our munchkins did just that. They have a He-Man castle at their house. The three year-old boy speaks about it with a deep, scary voice. The little two year-old girl thinks it's a princess castle.

It's all in the eye of the beholder.

I believe there are people out there who would think that whimsical and silly belong in the same sentence. But as they are comfortable with that, I enjoy embracing the chimerical in books, art, history, and in my own mind.

Today's water colors are a fairy boy and a little lamb.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

No Ocean View in the Forest

I live in a country which is ranked as number 8 on the World Top Ten Longest Coastline listing. 25 148 km long. Pretty amazing, considering how "small" Norway is, with its population of a little above 5 million.
Many people in this land enjoy an ocean view either from their living room window, on the road they drive to work, or when they go hiking.

Our home, the Duck and Cherry, is on an island. Island population 14 000. There are beaches all around, breathtaking ocean view from the lookout points, and the name originates from old Norse words suggesting harsh wind and weather conditions.

When we built the house, a friend looked around and said, "You don't have an ocean view. How can you buy a piece of land here - on this island - without an ocean view?"

The Duck and Cherry has a view of large fields with grazing sheep, a wooded area that reminds me of Robin Hood's legendary Sherwood Forest, and oodles of birds, deers, porcupines, squirrels, pheasants, even a badger meandering around . I especially like the vista from the living room windows of the long allée planted in the late 18th Century.

I love this view. As much as I enjoy watching--and listening to--the sea, the feel of the country forest goes straight to my heart.

Needless to say, there are several marinas and ferries that will transport people and cars across to the other side of the Oslo fiord. There are many boats. Marine leisure activity is as important to many Norwegians as owning a car, motorbike, or bicycle. According to International Boat Industry Key Market Facts the boat-ownership per capita is about one in seven.

We don't. Own a boat, that is. Not even a dry-docked ark in the garden surrounding the Duck and Cherry. Friends take pity on us, take us on a boat trip now and then, and let us feel the salty sea breeze in our hair. But we are happy without being that one in seven who own some sort of watercraft. And we can actually see the ocean if we walk a few paces up the road.

Today's water colors are seascapes painted a few years ago.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Why I Love Investments

It's Valentine's Day.

Last evening, after the love of my life had jumped under the covers, I tiptoed downstairs and hung up a long string with hearts and hung it across the bathroom from the shower to the sink. Another large heart was hung on the doorway pull up bar that he stops by every morning. Hearts were strewn on his nightstand, in his work back pack. Well, you get the picture. I love distributing hearts.
I love it even more when they fall out as he gets his wallet out on the train, at work, or anywhere actually. Fun.

I am a true believer in investments. Not the materialistic kind, nor changing sums of money from place to place and following their every move. The investments I find interesting are the ones that build relationships and eternal companionship.

Arnfinn is a great caretaker. Things last a long time around the Duck and Cherry because he is good at maintenance and upkeep. So I have told him, "If you take as good care of me as you do your things, I will last for all eternity."

This is an investment worth while our time and effort. Taking care of each other, making sure we are both well and happy, doing little things to brighten the everyday household chores and work, are investments that double back in value time and again. There are no limits. If we treat each other with respect, love, understanding, and a large pinch of humor, it will have a positive snowball effect for days to come.

It's worth the extra time, patience, and effort. It will pay back a hundredfold.

Today's photo taken in Stockholm.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Above all the jobs, callings, opportunities, gifts, blessings, chores, and joys in my life, I would choose mothering again and again. This time-consuming, all-encompassing, happy and sometimes frustrating task is in one word wonderful.

I would not give it away, nor change it, just make the best out of every moment, every day.

I admire my own mother. Watched her. Learned from her. Chose to be as much like her as I could. I watched other mothers as I was growing up, picking out good traits that I thought I would implement in my life when I had children one day. I also observed things I decided not to do in my future family life.

Wikipedia will tell you that a mother is a woman who gives birth to a child and raises it, but I believe it is so much more than that. Mother is a title, a loving bond, a connection, an honorable relationship. The word itself brings on a flood of emotions and loving feelings.

Sheri L. Dew, an inspirational speaker, talks about motherhood in a wider perspective that any encyclopedia will explain. In her famous talk, Are We Not All Mothers? , she explains how every woman is a mother. I love that concept.

Yesterday was Mother's Day here in Norway. I thought about my mother and my heart swelled with thankfulness and love.  I posted a photograph of her on Facebook (above), remembering her many smiles and always open arms.

Today's pictures: ice cream with my mother, water color showing motherhood

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Frames and Other Hang-Ups

I have a hang-up.
Only one? Well, not to reveal too many faults all at once I will let you in on this one:
When I visit people--and their pictures and paintings hang crooked on the wall--I straighten them quickly, when no one is looking.

I grew up with a pappa who was an artist, an architect, a cabinet maker, a builder of beautiful houses. He had strong opinions and knowledge about frames and how--and where--to hang something on the wall.

My parents came from Norway to Utah, USA for my wedding many moons ago. In his suitcase Pappa brought a painting for the newlyweds. The evening before the wedding he asked if I could take him to a frame shop. We found a small shop in Provo right before closing time. My Pappa had a special place in his heart for elaborate gold painted frames and chose one for this painting, even thought it was slightly smaller than the painting itself. The shopkeeper shook his head, reminding us he wanted to close in a few minutes. There was no way he had time to get it ready to fit the frame.
Pappa said, "Do you have a saw?"
"Yes," the shopkeeper answered and went in the back room to fetch a saw.

My Pappa looked at the painted board, then pressed it against a hard surface and sawed a piece off two of the sides. Then he placed the perfectly sized painting into his chosen golden frame.

You should have seen the shopkeeper's face. He had not seen anything like that before. But he made a sale and was probably happy with that.

In the eighties I lived in Okinawa, Japan. At that time, women in this proud and honorable country still walked a pace or two behind their husbands. When I went to a local store to order custom made frames for my paintings, the frame maker would never speak directly to me. He would only speak to my husband. I got my message across and fortunately was able to make the orders I needed, beautifully made wooden frames.

Just like my Pappa I have feelings about where and how a frame should hang, what it should look like to meet its purpose best. It is there to show off something.
There have been times that I have been asked to come help people hang pictures on walls--in their homes, or for exhibitions, like for my artist friend David Sandum.

So for a quick advisory:

  • How heavy is the painting? Decide what hanging implement you are going to use. Simple nail, screw, picture hanging hook or stronger items?
  • How do you make it level?
  • How close to a door frame should you hang it? To the corner of the room, furniture, curtains? Give it space if you want it to be noticed. If you want to hang it up there, don't let it be swallowed up by disturbing elements.
  • Think harmony when you choose frames; How does the frame match the photograph or painting? How does it match other frames? How does it match the interior of the room?
  • Hold it up, or even better, let a friend or family member hold it. Take a few steps back and take your time observing space, colors, textures.
  • And please, this is probably number one mistake: Don't hang your pictures and painting up too high. Unless your whole family towers above everyone else in height,  center your art work and photographs in a pleasant "eye" height, don't let it cling to the ceiling. 
And one more thing . . . hang only what you feel is uplifting, inspirational, and positive in your life on your wall. After all, it will hang there in front of you every day. It will work its influence on you.

I think I should add, I personally never use rulers, measuring tapes or a
level when I hang something up. You may want to. It's probably a smart thing to do.

Today's art is Pappa's wedding gift. It is an oil painting of a beloved place where our extended family had berry picking reunions every August while i was growing up. Good memories.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Good Monday

It's peaceful at the Duck and Cherry. I am working at home today. Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, and Bellie, Sean's visiting Border Terrier, are both fast asleep after having been fed and exercised. Poppy, the parakeet is downstairs listening to the radio. The rest of the family is at work.

I enjoy days like this. Even though my list is long and my shoulders tense from all the things I need to get done, it is my favorite kind of day. The person who initiated the saying Home is Where the Heart Is, was definitely talking about me. Sitting here in my Broom Closet with a view of the front yard, writing, answering emails, painting--is a good day for me, even though cleaning the Broom Closet is one of the things on my to-do list.

Today's water colors are a few teddy bears. Some of them hang on the wall in my Broom Closet.