Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To light or not to light

So much for untangling the out-of-doors Christmastree-lights! Hmmff! I untangled them, but every year the same problem arises: We have no electrical outlets outside!
I bought a new string of lights. Hector finished off the ones we had last year. "Naughty dog, Hector!"
Anyway, in the rain, wind, and end-of-November darkness - and with nice new led headlights on my forehead, I struggled to figure out how to solve the problem this year.
I tend to take sneak peeks into neighbor's yards to see how long their electrical cords are, what kind they have and how they hide them. There are many strange things to spy on the neighbors for, but this must be one of the weirdest.
So many of our neighbors have lovely lights on bushes and trees in their yard. I can enjoy looking at those, until I solve my trivial problems.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Real Chinese food

So grateful for the beauty and richness of knowing people from different cultures and bakgrounds. We all like to believe that our little hometown is what you would say in Norwegian "the navel of the earth", but what an eye opener it is to feel like a minority at times.

My first experience with this was as a 19 year old, newly married I came to Mississippi, and just grocery shopping was an awakening. I would be the only white customer and was addressed as "ma'am". The next few years we lived on the Mexican border, southern States, in Japan, and several European countries. I am so grateful for these encounters with life as it is. Shopping in the early morning hours at a Japanese market or buying material at the market in Seoul are experiences I appreciate. And how about Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market) in Austria? Incomparable!

But we don't have to travel far away from The Duck and Cherry to live and learn like this. Saturday we were invited to Chinese friends. 8 wonderful Chinese dishes adorned the dining room table, and we ate with chopsticks and tasted fish, meats, spring rolls, cabbage etc. the authentic way - and with chopsticks! Arnfinn did a great job eating the whole meal with two little sticks, and we listened to stories about the way of life and history of this great old country. Wonderful!

Linnea had told us after she returned from living in China, that Chinese restaurants were not the same as eating in China. She is right. Authentic is better!

When Tiffany was little she drew a picture of a large house with many windows. I asked her what it was, and she explained that it was a house where everyone is friends, even thought they come from different countries! She's special!

Today's fairy water color is called "Storm from the East".

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Untangling lights

It's time to untangle the Christmas tree lights. Not the ones for the indoor tree (those will have to wait another couple of weeks), but for the sturdy tree outside our front door. In three days we'll celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. There will be four Sundays of Advent before Christmas arrives, and the lights outside and in the windows, as well as the candlestick with the four candles need to be dug out of the boxes in the basement.

One of our neighbors jumped the gun and lit the tree in front of their house last week. That's helpful for Hector and I, who always pass that way for long walks in the foggy November evenings.

Last winter Hector ate some of the lights stringed up outside. Since the cord of lights consequently went the way of all the world (it died), I need to see if we have another one stacked away or if I need to purchase new lights.

I don't even want to start listing all the things Hector has chewed to pieces his first year at our house, but I believe pens are at the top of the list. He lurked around the living room the other day, carrying my glassses between his teeth. Fortunately I calmly got a hold of him before he started playing with them. Expensive toys! And we still love him!

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving today!! I am so grateful for our lives here at The Duck and Cherry.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Is it OK to get frustrated?

I am not going to discuss dieting on this forum, but a few things are important to know:
1. The word diet makes your body think that food is wonderful and exciting
2. It's important eat in a way that makes you healthy, wealthy and wise and not cranky, mean and self-absorbed. Food should not be a religion.
I have been wondering the last few days (coming from a person who rarely gets upset about anything) - is it OK to get frustrated with the people who are making money on low-carb diets, which have caused the production of butter and bacon in Norway to have big problems?
The stores are empty. No bacon, no butter! Use margarine in the Christmas baking and cooking? - I don't think so! It's rude to make money on a diet and have a whole country suffer for it.
So, now I have said it, and obviously I am upset about it.
On the other hand, chocolate is fortunately not out of production. Norway has some of the best chocolate in the world! A little chocolate every day makes me very happy. How about you?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blessings of a good harvest!

I am thankful for Thanksgiving!
32 people showed up at The Duck and Cherry this year. We celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday, as Norway has no tradition - or day off - on the fourth Thursday in November.
Our little living room was filled to the rim. I did not even know all the guests, but I love it when my children bring their friends over. Two turkeys, tons of potatoes, stuffing and more, along with 7 pies for dessert, proves a happy, gobbly celebration. Everybody sang along this year, and Andrea and Thomas and Co. stayed for a while after the other guests had left. Arnfinn and I were happy, tired hosts.

When you think about it, there is so much to be grateful for. We are a blessed people. I love the words to a hymn: Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Be surprised today! Count your blessings!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Enjoying traditions

I have often heard my children tell their friends: "It's great! We always do this....and we always do that!" It makes my heart happy to know that all the hard work from upholding family traditions at The Duck and Cherry are worth it. To have family members tell others how excited they are about Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays and special occasions, is wonderful. Traditions are important. They are a combination of anticipation, hope and safety.
It's not that our traditions are overwhelmingly exciting or even record breaking in any way, but they are ours and we love them. Well, not everybody loves every detail of our celebration that much.

Here's the thing. On Thanksgiving 20-30 big and little people gather in our small kitchen/dining/living room. Extra tables are carried in, decorated with autumn colors, candles and pewter.
Thomas, our nephew cuts the turkey, (He is always first to let us know he'll be there for Thanksgiving. He affirms the appointment right after summer has let go), and a few of us get all the food stuff ready and presentable as a buffet on the long kitchen counter by the windows.
We sit down. We bless the food and our bounty and the feasting begins.
Mid-through the meal we take a few minutes to say what we are grateful for. Everyone has a go. Everyone, except my sister, who is a little shy. We gracefully skip her, knowing she has a thankful heart. But this is an important tradition. Being grateful is a recipe for happy living, and saying it out loud confirms it even more.
Then for entertainment between turkey and pie, we sing! Yes, we sing happy Christmas songs. We have made a leaflet and religiously go through the songs from A to Z.
Now, this is not a favorite with everyone. There are those who wonder why "The twelve Days of Christmas" actually has to have 12 verses - every year!

But my favorite sing-a-long memory is when our son-in-law, Robert, came to our house for the first time. It was Thanksgiving. The young man sat next to me, his girlfriend's mother. How scary isn't that? Then we started singing. The poor guy had no choice. He wanted to make a good impression on Anya (who sat across the room playing the piano) and her family, so he sang joyously, and we loved it - and him - for it!
After the last song "Over the River and Through the Woods" ends with the words "Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie", we eat pie. Still full and content, we manage a thin slice of several of the 6 or so homemade pies.
It's just as fun every year. I agree with Tevje, from "The Fiddler on the Roof": Traditions are important!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hunting for the perfect turkey

You would think that the Pilgrims and Indians worked hard hunting for the perfect turkey in the 1600's. But I claim the statement, that going to four different grocery stores, just to return to the first one again, is time-consuming and tedious.
Norway has little turkeys!! I stood there watching the cartons of Thanksgiving fowls, wondering if I should purchase one huge turkey, two medium or three small ones. Huge are not avaiable in this country, medium - maybe, and small - a few, even though the shop keeper told me that turkeys will arrive closer to Christmas. But by Christmas, Thanksgiving will be past tense! I had to have one today!! I needed time to thaw the bird and was excited to cross it off my mile-long shopping list for the family Thanksgiving party at The Duck and Cherry on Saturday.
So I made a decision. I bought a small 4 kilo bird at one store, in order to go back to the much more expensive store to find an 8 kilo turkey. But miracles do happen in 2011. By the time I returned to the first store, the price had been changed drastically and it was even cheaper pr kilo than the small turkey. I was happy. It made up for having to pay an arm and half a leg for the pecans.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is the customer always right?

Is it true that the customer is always right? This is the philosophy punched into any cheerful behind-the-counter worker. I worked in a Health Food store for several years and my experience is that the customer is not always the one with all the great answers in life.
One day a lady entered the store wanting low carb wheat flour. (Just that tells you how much she knew....) Her first line was something like this: "You probably don't know about this!" But that was not all. She continued to tell me that I most likely did not know anything, in between being shown all the low carb items we had in the store. After hearing for the umpteenth time that she could tell on my face that I knew nothing, I told her enough is enough, upon which she immediately stopped accusing me of ignorance and bought a bag full of things I had shown her.
Patience is a virtue! But the truth shall set you free! Sometimes the lady behind the counter is the one who is right.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cold Dishwashing Liquid

So one morning happily opening the refrigerator door to prepare breakfast for my beloved, what did I see, but a very cold bottle of dishwashing liquid. I started laughing. Arnfinn's first comment: "Well, I did not do it!" I looked at him and had to admit that I might have been the culprit. Just then Anya came down the stairs and admitted the same as I had: "I could have done that!" beautiful Anya said.
Have you ever put something in the wrong place or surprisingly found something in an unthought area of the house? I admit it. I am that kind of person. I have been proud of being the person in the home, who basically knows where everything is, but it's not really true. Not anymore. I spend more and more time looking for things I unconsciously misplace. A waste of time really. Why do things have to hide from view, when you have so little time to look for them? It's not very nice.
If you have time to laugh about missing items turning up in strange places, by all means - do it heartily.

I love Sundays!

Another water color exhibition has come and gone. This was one of the pictures that found a new home yesterday - The Mezzosoprano! Silje bought it. She said it reminded her of me. Funny! First of all - I am not blue!

Today is Sunday. I love Sundays. It's a wise God, who said that we need to rest one day a week. It's a day different from the rest, a day to go to Church and a day to remember what's important in life.

It's also a day to have hot chocolate with whipped cream,

go for walks with someone cute,

work on family photos or histories,

and to have someone over for dinner.

Enjoy Sundays!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The day the dog ate my panty hose!

Ever had one of those days? Not me....
If that had been true, I would never have appreciated days the dog left my panty hose alone. (Still have not reach that state of bliss yet). Hector is wonderful - and learning, just like me.
My mother used to say: "Everyone is dumb, when I am not in a good mood". I have often wondered why she said that, because she seemed to always be cheery and sweet to everyone.
She made anyone feel loved. It did not matter if he was a king or a pauper.
She also had another saying that I have appreciated. Translated into English it would go something like this: "Life is like a day at school, with sorrow and joy as your main classes. You enjoy the classes of joy the most, but learn more from the classes of sorrow."
Today has been a good day. I woke up excited about my work, looking forward to being creative and preparing the exhibition on Saturday.
So what if Hector eats my panty hose from time to time. He's learning - and so am I.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Who is the same as what?

Who is the same? What is it to be the same? I am certainly not the same! The same as what? The same since when?

I am reminded of the time when Tiffany, our oldest went to Preshool, or Joyschool, as it was called. We lived on Okinawa. We as mothers, alternated teaching the children twice a week. I have a photograph of a blonde curly headed Tiffany, sitting with her friends - one black, one Japanese, one with brown hair, one with blue eyes etc. Which one is the same? They were all wonderful children. Each and every one a child of God and loved by Him.

It is the beauty of mankind that we have been given a variety of talents, different looks and a multitude of abilities and personality traits.

My father was good with music. As a young man he wanted to join the Salvation Army and play music in their band, but when he found out that they all wore the same uniform, he changed his mind. He was certainly not the same - not by a long shot.

I felt the same as a teenager. I did not want to dress the same as my friends in school. Did that make me a rebel? Maybe. But it made me feel like I was me - not someone who disappeared in the crowd.

It has made it easier for me to understand, when our children have wanted to be different. It's all in the family!

I am still trying to find out who God intends me to be.

(Water Color "Blomster-Line" by Heidi Morrell Andersen)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

When life gives us a lemon

Things don't always turn out the way we want! People will sneak ahead of you in line at the grocery store. Groceries will roll out of their respective bags and find new places in every corner of your trunk in the car on the way home from the grocery store. (I tend to loudly scold them for that on the way home.) Eggs will fall on the floor and break, as you eventually try to put those groceries away in the kitchen pantry.

Our mountain wandering took Arnfinn by surprise, as his right boot decided to stay in the marshes, tired of walking and willing to make a new home there among the grasses and wildlife. I saw him standing there, thinking he had stept in too deep. "Dids you get wet, Arnfinn?" "Wet?" he answered. "My boot is in the marsh." This picture of him is the epidomy of what we should do, when life gives us a lemon. Many situation are actually quite funny, if we put aside normalities and prejudices.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A petition for flying brooms

Halloween has come and gone. last year I dressed up as a witch and scared the children, when I answered the door. Maybe that's why we did not have many visitors trick-or-treating this year? I don't know. The problem was, I could not find my witch hat (and nose) yesterday.
So I hung up the two flying brooms next to the front door and lit two torches, as Linnea had stolen the pumpkin I had outside, only to return it later carved and wonderful. She put a light in it and it was very decorative.
Three missionaries came by, very happy to dig into the candy bowl.
I have a petition for the use of flying brooms. They are great. These are my positive points for acquiring a good broom:

lightweight, uses little space in garage or house
does not use expensive fuel
does not pollute
very easy to park in town, or just carry it with you
has natural A/C
requires little maintenance
teaches you balancing
gives you a great view
is fun to fly

Need I say more? Why everyone keeps buying cars - beats me!