Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Observation in Dallas airport a few days before Christmas

I am not in a place, not in a country.
I am between places, lands, and borders.
Between here and there, betwixt someplace and home.

I am between time.
For now, I am sitting in Dallas, Texas heading for London, then on to Oslo. At the counter where I bought a cup of tomato soup the lady asked, “And where are you going?”
I answered that I was on my way to Oslo.
“Where’s that?” she continued asking.

I will be traveling forward in time. When we touch down in Oslo I will be seven hours ahead of where I am right now. How neat is that? Real life experience with going into the future.

I will not be as gracious as time travelers in the movies who seem dizzy for a mere second, then shake it off and move into their new sphere. I will be dizzy for days. Going into the future is always more difficult for me that going back and always harder to adjust to.

People around me are wandering, wondering.
Some have a lost puppy look on their faces, their eyes darting between information about gates, eating areas, and bathrooms. My eyes are trying to catch sight of a Starbucks so I can purchase a tall hot chocolate with whipped cream, which I am convinced will bring me a few moments of heaven.

In Wichita Falls, only a few days ago, I went on a tour of Christmas homes with my daughter-in-law. The fashionable houses where literally filled to the brim with festive holiday decorations. From my table here in the airport I look at one of the largest indoor Christmas trees I have seen so far on my trip. And it is more than a decoration. It is an adventure. The bottom of the tree has a tunnel going through, so that people can go inside all the glitter, colors, and bling and have their photos taken. A happiness builder.

I order my longed for hot cocoa.
Sometimes, I want to tell the Starbucks baristas that my name is Carmen, Guinevere, or Louisa, but usually answer my real name when they ask what to write on the cup, although it is often spelled wrong anyway. I sip it carefully. The barista put extra chocolate sauce on the top and it makes me happy.

It’s time to shuffle toward the gate. I pass a woman who sits in a bar in the company of a glass of something on an otherwise empty table. She is staring into space. At the soup and salad kitchen energetic, health concerned computer enthusiasts seem to get a little work done while eating their vegetables.

The sign at my gate says: On time.
Looks like we will fill all the seats on this Sunday evening flight to London. I see folks from all walks of life, speaking languages I cannot understand. Some are wearing beach sandals and shorts, others come prepared with winter boots and large scarves. A grandfather keeps throwing a stuffed teddy bear into the high ceiling as his little granddaughter squeals in delight.
One family of four have matching black and red checkered shirts.

I look out of the large windows where airplanes are lined up towards the typical Texas scarlet sunset over flat fields as far as the eye can see. So different from the short, dark December days I expect in the country I am returning to.
I follow the line of travelers into my airplane, find my seat, and stuff my carry-on bag and jacket in the overhead bin. My small backpack stays at my feet, and as I open the zipper I see the two large Christmas tree ornaments. I had seen them a few days earlier at Hobby Lobby, a gloriously fun store for girls like me, and they seemed to beg me to bring them home.
I lean back in my chair and get ready to watch a few movies before I fall asleep.

Merry Christmas to all travelers this season and always. May you enjoy the holidays, remember the reason we celebrate, and choose the good, small things in life.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

AKVARELLER SALG UKE 18, 2-7 Mai 2017

                                          Amish - SOLGT




                                                   Morgensol - SOLGT











                                          Lys før stormen





Blomster før stormen

                                                       Eksotisk utsikt - SOLGT

                                          Vinteråker med gjess




                                          Strand Nord-Norge - SOLGT

                                          Sort svane


                                                    Fiskebåt i morgentåke

                                          Picnic på stranden





Alle bildene er copyrighted Heidi Eljarbø Morrell Andersen.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Memories to keep forever

My father had Alzheimer’s Disease for many years. I watched him slowly losing speech, forgetting everyday things, and finally not knowing who I was.
It has taken me a few years to concentrate on my father and his life before the disease changed him and his outward personality.
Now I am able to remember him as the fun-loving, creative, artistic, loving father he is – the man he really is.
But what happens to a person who has his life altered by such a disease?
We would stand together in the elevator at the nursing home. He would praise me because I knew which button to push to get to his floor. I remember thinking, Oh, pappa, you have so much more knowledge than I have. You can do so much. Why is that knowledge locked away, hindered by a horrible disease?

And had we walked out the door, he would not have known his way around the building without getting lost.
He had a paper in his breast pocket. He told me it was the contract for him and mamma to cut down the timber in the woods behind the nursing home. My mother had passed away several years earlier, and there was no wooded area behind the nursing home, just more buildings. But this he believed.

He loved music. Some of my last memories of him is sitting on his bed in the nursing home, singing to him. He looked like he was asleep, but his foot kept tapping to the rhythm of the music. He heard me and enjoyed the song.

We have learned that the glory of God is intelligence. We are encouraged to learn all that we can and that the knowledge we obtain in this life, will be a part of us in the eternities.

I love to learn. It’s exciting how we can learn many new things every day.
So, I have wondered lately, when I read, watch, experience – and feel like I can’t remember from one day to the next what I learned – will that knowledge still be with me and be a part of me?

I believe the knowledge we obtain will be stored. It is part of our mental harddisk, even if we don’t remember things like what we had for dinner last Tuesday.
It’s actually wrong to call it a harddisk. Our brain is not a computer. We cannot open it to read a book or listen to a symphony there. It’s so much more complex than that.

I also believe that all the wonderful things my dad learned, all the talents he improved, all the people relationships he mastered – these things are stored and are still a part of him.

So, I am picky. What do I want to learn? What knowledge will be important in days to come? Which stories in the chapters of the book of Heidi will I bring with me?

Photo top:
My father had many talents and skills. One was building homes. He did the whole process; made the architectural designs, contractor, carpenter, builder, kitchen cabinet maker, furniture maker, interior design. He even won a price for best garden design.

Photo bottom:
My father did not know me during his last period on earth, but I could tell he enjoyed the visits.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Don't mess up our Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
I won't stuff the turkey, but I will certainly stuff myself, and all the thirty-some guests.

But first of all, there's the pre-Thanksgiving stage, which starts weeks before the holiday.

Planning -
Even though I print out my own Thanksgiving-lists of everythings from chores to shopping, it takes time.
I sit and stare at my lists -
That takes time.

I think what I find most time-consuming every year is pie-baking. I love pies, but I also love to bake them. To me it's all in a flaky, yummy crust and a luscious filling. Every year I want to try a new recipy. Some linger on for several years, others are a one-time appearance.  
We usually have:

Banana Cream Pie
Chocolate or Chocolate Fudge Pie
Coconut Cream Pie
Raisin Pie
Berry Pie
Pecan Pie

Some years we have:
Apple Pie
Orange Creamsicle Cheesecake

This year I would like to try:
Mississippi Mud Pie
Pumpin-Chocolate Swirl Pie
Peach Chiffon Pie

Oh, my, the choices.

We'll see. Since we live in Norway - and Thanksgiving is a distant American holiday - there is no day off tomorrow. We will invite our family over on Sunday instead. I still have a few more days to choose which pies to bake.
I try to explain to my Norwegian friends, that Thanksgiving dinner is more work than the Norwegian Christmas feast. I guess it all depends where in Norway you come from. There are several variation from lutefisk, ribbe, ham roast, sausages and pinnekjøtt. What makes it less work? You guessed it, they don't serve pie.

Is tradition important? At the Duck and Cherry it is. My children expect nothing less than a Thanksgiving celebration  with "every procedure the same as the year before". There's no room for a sudden change of the traditional recipes - like putting jalapenos in the mashed potaoes or mushrooms in the turkey gravy.

And when evening comes and the guests have returned to their respective homes, I will be so tired that if a mere butterfly landed on my shoulder, it would tip me off balance and I would topple over. Happy, full, and oh, so tired.
A good kind of tired.
Maybe this year I won't even get up if that happens, but just lie there on the floor, and dream of chocolate-pumpkin swirl pie and traditional mashed potatoes with creamy turkey gravy.

"Happy Thanksgiving" from over the river and through the woods.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Magic of Aunts

In the beloved musical "The Wizard of Oz", the main character Dorothy, lives with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. Why? I have no idea, but the Oz books indicate that this was a good home for Dorothy.
When the young girl first comes to live with her aunt and uncle, Aunt Em screams and presses her hand upon her heart. But Dorothy is wildly and ferociously taken away from the Kansas farm as she is swept up in a large tornado bringing her to the fairytale land of Oz.
All the time in Oz, Dorothy's biggest wish is to go home - home to her aunt and uncle in Kansas. When she finally clicks the heels of her ruby slippers towards the end of the story, she is magically brought home by the words, "There's no place like home!"
As Dorothy returns, aunt Em cries out, "My darling child!" and covers her with kisses.

In Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. there are two aunts who stand out. Elizabeth's aunt Gardiner is sensible and understanding. On the other hand, Darcy's aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh is  almost feudal, representing an old aristocracy where pride and traditional values are more important than people. Darcy needs to go out on his own, and change the old ways of the family to win Elizabeth's heart.

Charlotte Brontë give aunts a bad reputation in Jane Eyre. Jane's aunt Mrs. Reed favors her own children and treats Jane terribly.

Charles Dicken's aunts and uncles are colorful examples of both good and bad in Victorian England.

In David Copperfield, Betsey Trotwood (his great-aunt) is not happy that David's mother has a son. Because of abuse and abandonement in her life, she does not favor men and boys. She storms out of the house when she hears about the birth. When young Davis, then motherless and alone, appears at her doorstep, she carries a knife and yells, "Go along! No boys here!" David is ragged, starving and exhausted. "If you please, aunt, I am your nephew."
Betsey is a complex charactoer. Her heart is soft, although years of bad experiences and trials have built a tough wall around her. She takes care of the boy
and eventually helps him with both education and employment.
"Never," said my aunt, "be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I can always be hopeful of you." (David Copperfield)

Dicken's Oliver Twist has a different kind of aunt. His maternal aunt, Rose, is portrayed as pure, innocent and beautiful. She helps rescue the young boy.

Why do aunts have a more significant role in novels from the 1800s? Where are the mothers? One answer somes from:

Ruth Perry's book The Transformation of Kinship in English Literature 1748-1818
...mothers in novels of the period are notoriously absent – dead or otherwise missing. Just when motherhood was becoming central to the definition of femininity, when the modern conception of the all-nurturing, tender, soothing, ministering mother was being consolidated in English culture, she was being represented in fiction as a memory rather than as an active present reality.

Irish Novelist Colm Tóibín explains the important of aunts:
The novel in English during the 19th century is full of parents whose influence must be evaded or erased, to be replaced by figures who operate either literally or figuratively as aunts, both kind and mean, both well-intentioned and duplicitous, both rescuing and destroying.
But 19th century aunts may not be so different from today's aunts. The aunts of  2016 also come wearing different hats. Some aunts have great influence on their nieces and nephews, love them as if they were their own children and rejoice when they succeed. But there are also those who are too busy, not interested, or not present.

One of the things that make my heart smile, is when I see my children carrying each others children. They truly love their little nieces and nephews. They want them to be safe and happy.
In my book, that is love. That is family.

Photo: My daughter with her nephew and daughter.

Sources. wikipedia, Literary aunts by Charlotte Higgins

Monday, May 23, 2016

"And this too shall pass."

Like many others, I thought the saying "And this too shall pass" to be a Biblical quote. However, it is not found there. It is believed to have come from a fable written by Persian Sulfi poets of the 12th century. 
Jewish folklore credit it as a saying by King Solomon of the Old Testament, but there is no reference to it in the Bible.
On September 30, 1859, Abraham Lincoln included a similar story in an address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society in Milwaukee:
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: "And this, too, shall pass away." How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction![
Bottom line is ,all conditions - positive or negative - are temporary.

For some reason, this saying pops up in my head time and again, when I feel life drizzles a little too much venom into my everyday life. When challenges become unbearable and I feel discouraged and hedged up, I try to remember the great promises of better days and tell myself, "And this too shall pass!" 
Does it help? Am I comforted by these five words?
Yes. And hope is a great part of it. I have to have hope to believe in relief from frustrating, difficult and unbearable challenges.

I recently visited frendly and wonderful Texas. I brought home in my suitcase a sign that said. 
"Today is the perfect day for a perfect day!" It will go up on my wall as a reminder of hope and having a positive attitude, and attitude that has to do with me choosing the right.

Today's art is an oil on canvas.

Source: wikipedia

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Fishermen's Widow

 The story of my great-grandmother, Hansine Marie Hermansen (1859-1942). This story was long-listed in the British Writing Competition Multi-Story, Flash Fiction in 2012.

Life of the Fishermen’s Widow          

            There are no ships in sight as I stand on the stony beach looking out at the living water. Not like my family, all gone a long time ago now. The wind teases my grey hair, what is left of it anyway. It used to be thick and wavy. Now I pull it back in a small bun and when strands of hair come undone and play with the wind, I don’t mind.
            Hats were never for me, I would rather wear a kerchief. My neighbor, Milly jokes about that. “I would like to see the person who can put a hat on Hansine,” she says. She’s a good neighbor, Milly. When the winter nights here in the north are dark and gloomy, she lets me come and stay with her. I hear people say I am afraid of the dark, but being worried and being afraid is not necessarily the same thing.
            “How do you manage?” Milly asks. “You have lost both your husbands and all three of your sons at sea.”
            They wonder why I always come down here to the beach on tempestuous days. I stand as close as I can without getting wet. The blustery weather is cold enough. Here I can be alone with my thoughts. Only the ocean moves towards the shore and the occasional seagull looks for fish in the waves. There’s never anyone here to respond to my voice, only new thoughts entering my wits, wondering and grinding.
            Questions about my family often emerge when Milly is around. “It will help talking about it,” she says and puts the kettle on. But I don’t speak about my children. They were given me, they were taken away. Words won’t change that.
            Sometimes I will mention funny things Berner said. He was the love of my youth, the one who chose me for life. Two and a half years was the time we were allotted. Enough time to learn to love, but not enough to be satisfied. I gave birth to our second child a few weeks after the sea claimed him.
            Then there was Karolius, who also chose me, a widow with two small children. I learned to love again, to live again.
            “Tell me about your grandchildren,” Milly continues. She has not given up on me. My thoughts go to my daughter, who married and settled in a town north of here. Photographers enjoyed capturing her beauty, but the Spanish flu grasped her life, along with her husband’s, leaving six children nine years and under. My grandbabies were divided among families far away from me. There’s not much I can tell Milly about them.
            What I would give to be able to do it over again, this life. I have spent enough time pondering on the outcome of the years past. When I was in the middle of things I did the best I could. Why is it that I think it would be different if I had a new chance at life? Both my husbands would still be fishermen, all my sons would follow in their fathers’ footsteps.
            I believe that when my turn on earth is over, I will look back thinking I spent too much time worrying. Though I can state this as a fact, my whole being is permeated with anxiety and concern.

            I wipe my hand across my wet cheeks, thinking it’s time to go back. The wind has picked up, a storm is approaching. As always, I will stay out of the lamp light when I return. On a night like this, I won’t engage in conversation.

Foto: Hansine Marie Hermansen