Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Efharisto. Thank you, in Greek. It is pronounced "f har eesto" with the accent on the third syllable.

Greek - Romanization - English
Eυχαριστώ. Efharisto. Thank you.

Manners are a must when traveling and a little bit of language knowledge can go a long way.

I just spent a week in Rhodes, Greece - I was working.
Huh? Working on a paradisaical island with sunshine every day, 28 Celsius in the beautiful blue ocean, and Greek food for dinner every day? Yes, indeed. Lucky me!

I thought about our son in law, Michael, throughout the week. He spent two years as a missionary in Greece and speaks the language fluently. It's a beautiful language, soft to listen to. Michael was the only one who received gifts as I returned, as I thought he would appreciate it the most. A bottle of good extra virgin olive oil and some Greek Ion chocolate. He was very excited and I was thrilled that the bottle of olive oil, wrapped in clothes and a zillion plastic bags, made it home without marinating all my belongings in the suitcase.

But now I am so happy to be back at the Duck and Cherry. Home is the best place in the world. I returned to a cheerful Wheaten Terrier and a husband who thinks life is boring when I am not there to talk his ears off. I returned to find Sean and his family had come to spend a few days and I got to play with one year old little Dean. Again, lucky me!

Efharisto! I am grateful for so many good things in life.

Today's water color speaks for itself. Take time to make good memories.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Scene: At McDonald's waiting in line. The man in front of us asks for a hot dog.
How not to laugh when you are inclined to be a giggly person, not mean or ill-meaning, but simply a person who finds humor in everyday situations? Oh, my goodness. It's hard sometimes.

Laughing in unexpected places can be very embarrassing. As a teenager I went to the movies with my cousin to see The Emigrants/Utvandrerne. It's a beautiful, but slow and serious story about a 19th century Swedish emigrant family. For some reason an expression said by one of the actors sounded so funny in our heads, we just could not stop laughing. We put handkerchiefs in our mouths to control the chuckles in an otherwise quiet theater.

There are many kinds of laughter. Baby's giggles are very contagious. Children enjoying play are prone to laugh and we laugh with them. A good joke or funny situation can trigger happy hilarity. But laughter can be mean and hurtful too. Some can even sound hysterical or vulgar.

One night this summer, with windows wide open letting in the gentle warm breezes and smells of the season, we tried to sleep, but heard laughter from a party across the field and on a distant street. Sounds carry easily and sometimes seem closer than they actually are. It was my cousin. I confronted her later, asking her if they had had a party until x time in the morning. She had. What can I say? She loves to laugh.

There are benefits to healthy, uplifting laughter. One Internet page claims that laughter is good for your health.

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. 
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, 
  • Laughter protects the heart. 
The article suggest ways to create opportunities to laugh, and tells you where to begin:
  • Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.
  • Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When you’re in a state of sadness, you have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.
  • When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”
  • Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.
  • Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”
Have you laughed lately?
What makes you laugh?

Today's water color: A laughing fairy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Friendly Noises Outside

Did you know that porcupines are noisy creatures?
I looked out of the window of the Duck and Cherry one night as I heard grunting pig-like sounds outside. Usually the sounds at night are cats on the prowl, hooting owls, and in the summertime birds who do not have a watch to tell them when it's polite to start chirping.
In the bushes I saw porcupines running around (yes, they can actually move pretty fast if they put their mind to it) oinking all the way. One ventured into our garage and Sean had to carry it out (wearing gloves).

Our last Wheaten Terrier, Choice, was an avid porcupine hunter. She came home one evening, after having run off, with needles in her cheeks. I carefully picked them out and wiped her off.
One time on a walk with Choice, a porcupine sat on a grassy hill next to the path. When it noticed the dog, it rolled up into a little ball to protect itself, but did not remember that it was sitting on a hill. The poor thing spun down the mound just to land at the bottom, confused and dizzy.

Arnfinn says he wakes up in the morning from sounds of sheep bleating. Baa! Baa! I have to giggle. Where on earth do we live to have sheep waking us up in the morning? Next to the Duck and Cherry is a wooded area and the farmer next door often keeps horses or sheep there. I love it. We can sit on our veranda eating dinner and watch the sheep. Hector gets all excited. After all, he kind of resembles a sheep - a little . . .

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sienna's Charity

If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: . . .  stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.
Leo Tolstoy

My favorite story this past week is about our little granddaughter named Sienna. Usually she goes by the name "baby". She is an active 11-month-old, full of energy, and happy about life.
A few days ago she accompanied her mamma and went to pick up her big brother from preschool. There Sienna noticed a little girl crying. She went over to her and gave her a big hug with sound. She always hugs with a hugging sound. Then she tried to give the crying girl a kiss by opening up her little baby mouth and leaning forward towards her.

I am amazed how a little woman like Sienna already has it in her to comfort those who are in need of comfort, to give a hug to someone who is sad. She noticed the sad girl, felt for her, and did something about it to ease her pain.

Many struggle all their life to learn to do that. Some may find it hard and never really understand the fulfillment of helping others and being there for someone else. Caring, charity, and service are words that lift us up more than burden us.
Service is never convenient. It 's easy to find an excuse to avoid taking time to help someone. The thing is - if we take the time - we are the one's who are truly blessed by it. We will feel good, be more positive about life, and learn more about love.

Little Sienna is already teaching me that if someone needs us, don't hesitate, just do. Go over there and make them feel better.

Photos today of Sienna and Hector.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Talking to a banana

Me, frustrated and yelling at the toothpastes: You are not alive, so stop behaving as if you are!!
I had bought 10 tooth pastes and tried to set them up neatly on a food storage shelf in the basement. They kept falling over, knocking each other down like dominoes.

Some may say I have a problem. I speak with things. But honestly, they seem to live and do their own thing.
Don't you readers have a problem with groceries rolling out of the bags as you drive home from the grocery store? Do your apples and canned goods escape and hide under car seats as you turn into your drive way?
My groceries are not well-behaved at all.

What about electrical gadgets that flip out and do unexpected things? We had a toaster that shot the pieces of bread into the air. We had to stand next to it with a plate and catch the bread on the way back down. Talk about pretending to be in an ejection seat.

And how about when shopping for toilet paper and you get home and throw the rolls up the stairs in direction of the upstairs bathroom to save time walking up and down the stairs? Here at The Duck and Cherry the rule seems to be for the rolls of toilet paper to hit the stairs almost at the top and boomerang back down the stairs, laughing all the way. Why can't they just stay put where I throw them?

My children suffer from the same problems. Things in the house even have names.
Linnea spoke to a banana the other day. "Now today you will come to work with me," she said.
Her husband, Michael, looked at her surprised, wondering why he was going to work with her. Linnea: No, I'm just talking to the banana.

Today's water color is a scene I love to paint. Birch trees and rose hip together.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Broom Closet

Typical! I run up the stairs to fetch something in the Broom Closet (read my office), just to stop inside the door and wonder what on earth I went up there to get.
I look around the room and try to remember. Sometimes I end up going back downstairs to catch a glimpse in my memory of what I wanted in the first place.

My Broom Closet in a heavenly mess. Lately I have filled it with old boxes of children's drawing from the basement, old art work I had forgotten all about, papers, more papers - you get the idea.
I am trying to go through some every day. I even bring a pile of papers and place them in front of me on the couch as I watch an episode I have taped of Criminal Minds or Charmed. Problem is that I am allergic to dust and acari sitting in old boxes and materials. I sneeze and wipe my nose and my eyes turn red and itchy. Uncomfortable, yes! But very satisfying to get things done. It simply has to be done!
I make piles and dole them out to my children. They think its funny when I show them old drawings they have made and memories come back to them also.

I need to clean out the Broom Closet for another reason.I have new water color works waiting to be finished and created, stories to write, and creativity flows better for me when the room around me is tidy.

But I must say, I truly enjoy having a Broom Closet all to myself. It's a place where I can gather the things I work with and a space that feels like it's ME. A space like that does not have to be big. It can be a corner under the stairs, an area in the kitchen or wash room or a studio over the garage. I have used one of the bedrooms now that the children have moved out, but it still has a pull out bed in it for visitors who sleep over.

Maybe somebody else who sleeps there can feel creative as they look around the room at pictures of teddies and fairies, my witch hat on the wall, pens and paint brushes, etc.