Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas makes my Heart glad

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more! 
Dr. Seuss

I bought Dr. Seuss books for my children when they were little. We read them time and again. Children books should be fun to read for the adults. After all, they have to read them a zillion times to their children.

He has many words of wisdom this Dr. Seuss. There's something to learn in his stories, a moral, an eye-opener to consider.

He is right about Christmas. It is definitely more than what comes from a store. And as the Grinch understands this and feels the spirit of Christmas, his heart grows three sizes.

We are now in the time of the season that the Norwegians call middle-of-Christmas. It's the time between Christmas and New Year's Eve. Scandinavians sing songs about Christmas lasting until Easter, but that's going a little bit too far.

I have listened to Christmas music the whole month of December. it has cheered me up, enlightened my spirit, and filled my mind with good feelings and encouragement.

I have many favorite Christmas songs, but thought I would choose one today that is especially dear to me.

Good King Wenceslas is a song about a good king who teaches his page the true meaning of Christmas by bringing him out to help a poor peasant on Christmas Eve. It's a beautiful story and touches my heart every time.

This season I have listened to these albums the most times:
Mormon Tabernacle Choir Spirit of the Season

Michael Buble Christmas

Jenny Oaks Baker Noel

Hilary Weeks Christmas Once Again

Beautiful, wonderful feeling of Christmas through music and stories. Makes my heart glad.

Photos from our Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Christmas Gentleman

I packed up four or five bags of groceries at the store and stuffed a large box of corn flakes under my left arm. I noticed a man, probably in his mid-twenties, staring at me as I struggled to carry all the things at once out to my car. He came over and asked if he should help me and grabbed the box of breakfast cereal.

"I am not going to steal it," he said with a smile.
"If you stole my box of corn flakes, it would mean you were terribly hungry, and it would be OK," I answered.
He just smiled again and asked if he should carry more bags for me.

A little sceptical, but grateful, I walked to the car with him, wondering if his intention was to see what kind of car I drove. I was saddened by the fact that scepticism more often creeps into my thought nowadays, but I wanted to believe that he was filled with a Christmas spirit and saw a damsel in distress and acted as a gentleman should.

I thanked the nice man and called Arnfinn from the car
"You know what just happened? I don't think I have ever experienced this in Norway before. A young man just offered to help me carry my bags to the car," I said excitedly.
"Do you still have your car key and purse," Arnfinn asked.
I giggled. "Yes, it's all good. I believe he was just really nice."

Our two-year old grandson, Scott, is also quite a gentleman. He stands by the door and with an elegant flick of the hand he says, "There you go, girls first." He stands patiently and waits for his mother and little sister to pass. Very cool. (photo of Scott)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mistletoe and Kisses

There's a dry little twig of mistletoe hanging in the doorway entrance to the living room at the Duck and Cherry. It hangs there all year around. I don't see the need to take it down the other eleven months of the year, although Arnfinn claims that he doesn't need a mistletoe to kiss. Even so, I definitely need to replace the dried out little sprig with a fresher one.
When we lived in Austria I saw the farmers selling large balls of mistletoe on the Christmas markets. The Austrian hang mistletoe with red ribbons on their front door for luck during the season. Some put a sprig on the threshold to ward off nightmares.

I walked up to an older man selling large branches of mistletoe on a stand at the large Christmas market in Linz one December day.
"I would like to buy a small twig of mistletoe," I said.
"Can't do that," he answered gruffly."I only sell whole balls."
I looked at the large mistletoe and my imagination started flashing images of romance and kissing in abundance in the doorway.
"You can do a lot of kissing under such a large branch of mistletoe," I said and laughed.
The man was just as serious and clearly had no idea what I was talking about. He was surely missing out on a lot of fun - and Christmas romance.

Tradition says to hang the mistletoe in the ceiling during the Christmas season. If a woman stands under the mistletoe, she has to allow anyone to kiss her - no protest. For every kiss the man would pick a berry and when the berries ran out, so did the kissing.
The berries actually hold a very sticky substance used for making glue and in olden days it was used to catch birds.

The thing is, the juice from the mistletoe is quite poisonous if it gets into the bloodstream.
We like to live dangerously, don't we?

Mistletoe or Viscum album is a protected species in Norway, since 1956, actually the first plant to be protected in this country. Trees with mistletoe cannot be cut down or hurt in any way. Even though it is a hemi-parasitic shrub that lives on the stems of other trees, it is attractive and rare enough to be allowed privacy.

When you look at a tree with a large mistletoe against the blue sky, it's easy to think it's a bird's nest and not a growing plant. Close up the plant is pretty with small rounded leaves and white, shiny berries.

Photos today: one of my beloved cross-stitch Christmas tree decorations, the small dry sprig over our door, and a tree with mistletoe in Salzburg.
(last photo from Austria,viscumalbum/Interesting)

Monday, December 10, 2012

To choose the good part in December

Another crazy week is over for the inhabitants of the Duck and Cherry. Let me see. What was crazy about last week? Maybe when I drove Arnfinn to an early train and got a flat tire.
I carefully drove to the nearest car repair shop up the street only to find that they didn't open for another hour. Problem was - it was freezing cold and I was in my pyjamas!
The pyjamas were pretty and decent - but let's face it, they were after all pyjamas - not appropriate for shopping our visiting car repair shops and not very warm either.

I finally gave in after standing in the cold for the longest time and asked a friend to come and get me, then called the repair shop when they opened to tell them why my car was outside their shop and where I had hidden the key.

It took hours getting it fixed as I had to call around to find someone who had Goodyear tires in stock, so that I did not have to wait 5-6 days to get it replaced.

How is this a happy story after all? Playing the pyjama game was pretty funny, but what I kept thinking was how grateful I was that this did not happen on the freeway - at night - all alone - etc. etc.
Even half wasted days when you don't get through your to-do list can be blessings in disguise.

Christmas stress creates traffic chaos, accidents, people getting frustrated in lines at the store, tension builds up because of all we should do - having to bake seven kinds of cookies (Norwegian tradition), clean the whole house (also tradition), Christmas cards, gifts and so on.

I would like to have Christmas joy instead of stress.
Think I'll do some planning today and see what is really important and what is not.

How can I choose the good part? What is most valuable and precious within the short time frame I have been allotted? What makes sense to spend time on this Christmas month?
My thoughts go to a scriptural passage in the New Testament about two women.

 38 ¶Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named aMartha received him into her house.
 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, MarthaMartha, thou art acareful and troubled about many things:
 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath achosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Today's water color is a detail from a picture of pointsettas.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

St Nicholas Day

Ich hab ihn gesehen, er ist unterwegs. Einen frohen Nikolaus-Tag!  
(I have seen him, he is on his way. Happy St. Nicholas Day!)

We lived quite a few years in the beautiful land of Austria. Today is St Nicholas Day there. It's December 6th.

First on December 5th we would get visits on the door from Krampus, a beast-like creature who scares the children who are bad before Christmas.

I remember the stores in Austria being full of chocolates and things shaped as Krampus. Parents would scare their children and say Krampus would get them if they were not behaving. I had a discussion with a lady in the store once there, as I thought the devilish-looking candies were horrible as children's teasers in the month of Christmas.

But it's tradition.

And the beauty of this tradition is what happens today on the 6th of December. St Nicholas comes and saves them all, gives gifts, and brings hope and happiness.
On this day we would get visits from young people dressed as the Christmas saint, more like a bishop. He would want to know if the children had been good, polite, and helpful and ask for a small donation.

I miss Austria. I loved living there and I am grateful for the experiences and friendships I formed there - and that formed me.

Today's water color is one I made as an illustration for a Christmas song book. The original was stolen from the author's car in central Europe somewhere, but I fortunately have this photograph of the painting. It depicts the Norwegian "nisse" and the American "Santa Claus".

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December Art Exhibition 2012 at The Duck and Cherry

For those of my readers who live close by I invite you to an open house Art Exhibition at The Duck and Cherry this coming Saturday 11:00-16:00. 

Water colors, calendars, purses , cards, bookmarks, and more.

Art work from Eljarbo Studio by Heidi Morrell Andersen. 
Great Christmas gifts - or give yourself an original work of art this season.

I will be there and drink some "gløgg" with you. Come and say hello.

Below are a few of the water colors on sale. 

I have a strong opinion that what we hang on our walls will influence our daily lives. Art should be uplifting and positive, if that is what we strive for.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I Wanna Be a Bear Today

I have a little bit of a problem today. 
I keep thinking about what it would be like to hibernate, to go to sleep for a few months and wake up on a sun-shiny, bird-chirping, spring day. The reality is I am cold. Outside thermometer shows -13 Celsius (8,6 F). My body is rebelling and not cooperating and I feel sad. 

Threefold threat. 

Appropriately enough I will post this small and deep felt poem found on the net.

I wanna be a bear
If you're a bear, you get to hibernate.
You do nothing  but sleep for six months.
I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate,
you eat yourself stupid.
I could deal with that, too.

If you're a bear, you birth your children 
(who are the size of walnuts) 
while you are sleeping
 and wake up to partially grown, cute cuddly cubs.
I could definitely deal with that.

If you're a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business.
You swat anyone who bothers your cubs
If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too.
I could deal with that.

If you're a bear, your mate expects you to wake up growling.
He expects you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

I wanna be a bear.

bears%20lounging.jpg (22516 bytes)