Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Peal that Rings Out the Old Year

Of all sound of all bells... most solemn and touching is the peal which rings out the Old Year.
Charles Lamb

How do you feel on New Year's Eve? What are your thoughts?
Are you nostalgic, thinking through all that happened during the year which has now come to an end?
Are there things unsaid? Things undone?
Are you sad, regretful, bitter?
Are you grateful, enthusiastic, hopeful?

Probably, most of these feelings zoom by each and every one of us, but which ones do we allow to linger and become part of ourselves and our thinking?

I am always in awe as I stand at the threshold of a new year. What does it have in store? What awaits as I step across and into new, unknown territory. Insecurity approaches, sneakingly. It festers and grabs hold of my thoughts. Because I so much want to be a better person, develop talents, reach goals, accomplish projects I am half-way through.

I believe in goal-setting. I believe in positive thinking and dreaming. Without dreams, how may dreams come true? Many of my dreams and goals are now part of the book of Heidi. I have reached the finish line for some of them.

So what about 2014? Which goals and dreams do you have for the new year? My suggestion is to make a list--not too long--and share it with someone special. Let this person check up on you a few times throughout the year to see how you are progressing. Include on that list personal growth, spiritual and uplifting points, and other matters pertaining to career and life itself. I will join you and do the same.

Happy New Year!

Today's art is my oil painting, "Lamb and Lion".

Friday, December 27, 2013

Grandma in the Drawer

Invasion of people we love during the holidays. Rooms are filled with people and bags. The refrigerator is filled to the brim. Shoes and winter boots crowd the hallway.

When the evening comes and I am sleepy and tired after a day of play with young and old, the love of my life and I retire to the room with the trundle bed. Our bedroom houses one of the young families visiting.
The trundle bed is a large oak bed from California. It has been around for about fifty years and survived many moves from country to country. It creaks when you turn over, but the top mattress is comfortable.

I pull the drawer out, crawl in, and pull the feather quilt around me. I pretend that the mattress in the drawer is not as thin as it feels. The window is slightly open to let the winter freshness gently enter. I puff the feather pillow just right and drift off into dream land. Fortunately, I am a good sleeper. Off to weird, funny, and sometimes scary dreams I go.

I would gladly sleep on the floor if it meant making room for the family for Christmas. How wonderful it is to spend the holidays with those we love.

So a few days ago we brought four of our children with their families to our cabin in the mountains. Wilderness and snow, icy roads, and a cabin called Eljarbu filled with candles, lights, Christmas food, music, and happy people. A roaring fire in the wood burning stove kept the living room warm, where games were played and nostalgic Christmas movies on TV were shown.

Arnfinn chopped down a small, crooked Christmas tree with the grandchildren. Scott (3) brought his sword to help cut it down.

Christmas lights adorned the veranda and during the night, naughty dinosaurs raided the cookie jar.

Snowball fights, walks in the mountains, sauna, snow bathing, hot, cold, hot, cold. Healthy and fun.

Now I am back to a few more days in the drawer. And I am grateful.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Silent Snowfall and Crunchy Footsteps

I found Sean's car this morning. All the while, it had been sitting there under the snow. The milder weather made it reappear. Magic.

The Christmas lights on the veranda of the Duck and Cherry had the same problem. There was so much snow on them, little flickers of light fought their way through the white, fluffy cold stuff to be seen. I had to go out and shove some of it off.

I am sure there are both pros and cons for it - long lists with up- and downsides. E.g. my 88 year-old mother-in-law has a hard time maneuvering her walker in the snow, while the love of my life gladly shovels the driveway over and over again as long as there is enough snow to go cross-country skiing.

There are tests for knowing if it is a proper winter--cold and white.
1. Breath in through your nose- If your nostrils seem to stick together, then it is legally cold.
2. Listen for sounds when walking outside on snowy ground. Does it crunch under your feet? If so, then it is also quite cold.
My mother told me of her memories from WWII, how the trodden down, snowy roads made crunching, crackling sounds underfoot. Every time I experience the same, I think of my parents, young and in love, walking the streets of Oslo during the war.

Ergo, if the cold, white winter does not present itself as such--cold and white--you can test the above statements. To me, it's also beautiful when the snow falls quietly, and walking Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, can be done makng no sound at all, only the soft, hushed feeling of serenity.

The word snowfall seems to mean different things to different people.

“Is it snowing where you are? All the world that I see from my tower is draped in white and the flakes are coming down as big as pop-corns. It's late afternoon - the sun is just setting (a cold yellow colour) behind some colder violet hills, and I am up in my window seat using the last light to write to you.” 
― Jean Webster, (1876-1916), Daddy-Long-Legs

So poetic. I can see her there, writing, feeling lonely.
I also enjoy the following quote. Vivid pictures dance in my mind, two brothers; playing, teasing, laughing together.

“It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.” 
― Dylan Thomas, (1914-1953), A Child's Christmas in Wales

Today I have chosen two of my winter water colors.

Monday, December 9, 2013

No-Stress Stressful Christmas

I am concentrating on a no-stress Christmas season. I am a week and a half into December!! Yikes!! I am wondering if all of you also have just a couple of weeks till Christmas, or is it just me?

So while I am concentrating on stressing down, I am making lists, checking them twice, thinking of all the things I need to do, wondering how to get it done on time, prioritizing . . .all the while telling myself, "Calm down. No worries. Remember, Heidi, you love this month so much, it's bursting within."

I decided many years ago that December was not a month to play Superwoman. There are things on my list that simply are not necessary. Prioritizing is especially vital before Christmas arrives.

So what do I really want? What makes Christmas special? Because in some ways I get that special Holiday feeling the whole month of December. It's in my heart, it fills me with mushy, sentimental goodness and nostalgic impressions.

I want snow. Christmas needs to have fluffy white stuff fall down and silently cover the ground. Trees should have that frosty look, and when I walk Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, stars and Christmas lights should be seen from houses of neighbors and friends.

I want my house transformed into a warm, cozy abode with Noel written all over it and carols and happy songs of the season playing. Ingredients for special treats and hot chocolate should always be handy.

A couple of Christmas parties with good friends--annual Holiday traditions, Church meeting with Christmas carols and stories of the nativity.

Most of all I want my family around. I need my family. They make me whole and make me grateful to be me. To celebrate the birth of Christ with them is the greatest fulfilment of all.

 Too much for you? That's OK. We are all different. But me, I am perfectly maudlin when it comes to Christmas.

Today my water colors are based on Norwegian Christmas traditions of our Santa Claus, "nisse".

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Always a Mother

I rode my bike to work this morning. Avoiding a few icy spots, I made my way down the hill towards town. As I stood by the pedestrian crossing holding my bike, ready to cross on foot, a car swooshed by right in front of my nose. I looked at the driver. It was an old man, very concentrated, looking straight ahead with no thoughts of keeping the Norwegian traffic law of stopping by the pedestrian area.

My first thought was that he probably needs the doctor to tell him it's time to give up driving, then I thought about a situation in my life a few years ago.

Linnea was ready to leave home, she was grown-up, responsible, had saved up her money, finished high school, and ready to go to China to teach English to Chinese children.

For two days I cried. Arnfinn came  home from work, took a look at my sad, teary-eyed face and asked, "Has it been a difficult day?"
I gave him every reason to believe he had observed my situation correctly. "Yes," I wined. "I am not a mother anymore."

It felt like that. My baby was out of the house and with her all the friends who came by to visit, watch movies, and eat dinner with us. It was very empty without her.

It took a while, learning to exist without children at home. After all, I had had them there for umpteen years, I hardly remembered a life without them. Then a wonderful thing happened. I actually started enjoying this new time in my life. And the best thing - I have discovered I am definitely a mother still - and a grandmother - and a mother-in-law.

It can be a challenge to get used to new and different stages in life. The old man will probably be very upset when one day he is told that he cannot drive anymore. A man who has provided for a family all his life, often feels useless when he retires, feeling inadequate and worthless. I felt worthless for a while, too. I thought my children did not need me anymore. But positive, uplifting words like gratitude, enjoyment, and love have made me see that it's possible to enjoy life even though it takes a turn around a new corner.

I still cook way too much food for dinner. Arnfinn often has to eat the same meal for three days - and never complains about it. Some things are hard to change. I still worry about where my children are when any of them come home to spend the night. As soon as they enter the Duck and Cherry, I put on the mother role and want them safely home before I go to bed at night.

They are aways my children. I am always a mother.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hector, Can You Whisper?

So, my goal was to write two articles today. I have finished one. I am happy with that. One is definitely better than none.

I have listened to Christmas music galore. I am full of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and "Happy Season"-songs. And it is. December is beautiful in my heart.

Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, has been in and out, in and out. Now and then I go out on the front porch and tell him, "Hector, cats are allowed to be out there. Birds are allowed to be out there. You cannot stand in front of the house and call out to everyone. I know you want to say hello, but the neighbors are not too excited about that."

He looks at me with huge, warm brown eyes. He is adorable, even when he is being a pesticus. I like him no matter what.

Actually, he is an obedient, loving, and joyful dog, who just gets bored when I work without enough breaks to say hello to him. No wonder he has to say hello to cats, bird, dogs, and people passing by on our little street.

I sometimes wish I could teach him to whisper. He knows well how dogs are loud in each others ears to make a point. He does the same with me at times. But I remind myself that I am the boss, At least, I am trying to be.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Writing on the Wall

It's fun to study books on character expression and emotion. It's even more fun trying to come up with varied ways of describing what your character feels.

The other morning, reading a chapter in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament, I noticed a verse that was interesting for writers who struggle to find the right description of an emotion. The author wanted to paint a picture of the king's status.

Back story:
Belshazzar and his revelers drink from the vessels of the temple—A hand writes upon the wall, telling of Belshazzar’s downfall—Daniel interprets the words and reproves the king for pride and idolatry—That night Babylon is conquered.

The disembodied fingers wrote these words:

מנא, מנא, תקל, ופרסין
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin

In verse 6 we hear how Belshazzar, the king of Babel, reacted to seeing the hand write on the wall.

 Then the king’s acountenance was changed, and his thoughtsbtroubled him, so that cthe joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.

I like the Norwegian translation of this verse. It is even more colorful. It says, "Then the King changed color, and his thoughts troubled him; his joints became weak, and his knees smote against each other."

In other words, his face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.

Based on this scripture in the Bible about Daniel, and how the handwriting on the wall predicted the end of the kingdom of Babylon, the expression today means that something bad will happen. It is an idiom for "imminent doom or misfortune".

Showing character emotions in writing can be done in many ways.  Here are four points to focus on:

1. Body language - make he character raise his eyebrow, tap his foot, wring his hands
2. Show, don't tell - "He was happy" can be a bubbly voice, whistling, a smile, joyful tears, etc.
3. Dialogue - Precise conversation, questions, and answers to show happiness, fear, etc.
4. Interaction with other characters, the surroundings, how the protagonist sees the worlds around him.

I painted the oil painting of Daniel in the Lion's Den 29 years ago as a young mother living in Okinawa, Japan. On the second floor of our house I had an office to work in and kept my toddlers at a distance with a gate in the doorway. I remember I spent a long time trying to decide the scene, Daniel's age and the emotions of the painting. It's a painting I still have on my living room wall, no matter how many offers I have had to sell it.

The other painting today is Rembrandt's wonderful rendition, "Belzasar's Feast".

Monday, November 25, 2013

Me, a Suffragette?

This year we celebrate 100 years since the right for women to vote was introduced in Norway. Was it a man or a woman who first had the idea that maybe it was a good thing for women to vote also?
What do you think the debate was - would it be fortunate and helpful for the future if women  made decisions or would it mess up society as a whole?

I am thinking - when they voted for women's votes, only men participated. There must have been thousands of women who did their best to influence men to make a wise choice. Did they stand in the doorway, lipstick glowing, a freshly baked cake in their hands, encouraging their man to do the right thing? Did they flatter them? Did they hold their arm up in front of them, threatening with a rolling pin? Did they seriously discuss pros and cons with their husbands, brothers and fathers?

I am certain many were anxiously engaged in the cause. Some probably thought it was impossible and did not have the courage or strength to fight for it.

Votes for women became a reality even though when and how varied greatly in different countries.
It was normal that only married women could vote. In some places even that privilege was withdrawn.

Walt Disney made many movies with high morals depicting problems and challenges. Sister Suffragette is a joyful song from the musical Mary Poppins. The lyrics tells us the feministic battle in the beginning of the 20th century, where soldiers in bloomers fight for the right to vote for every woman in England. Mentor and prime example was Emmeline Pankhurst, a woman I admire. 

The song ends on this note, "Our daughters' daughters will adore us, and they'll sing in grateful chorus, well done, Sister Suffragette!"

Switzerland was late applying this right for their women. They did not acquire female voting until 1971. Lichtenstein was even later, 13 year after Switzerland. Unfortunately, there are still places on earth where women have no rights because of political or religious beliefs.

Discussing genealogy with others, I have often heard, "You have found so many names." I joke and reply that it's because I have so many ancestors. Everybody does! Actually, quite a few of them are women! Problem is, that even though we all know how families are made and how they grow in number, these women are often difficult to find in the records. Far back, mostly names of the male population are entered into records.

I am old-fashioned enough that I believe women existed then like now. It is difficult, if not impossible, to form a line of descendants without women, and without female intuition or tricks. Women were part of society and history, even if they were not always documented as such.     

Below are six generations of women in my family. Each one has a place, from Anna Magdalena who was born  in 1856, to little Sienna, my granddaughter, who has a better start and more rights than many of her maternal ancestors.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How Old Am I?

Our munchkins are two and a half, three and a half, almost six months, and so on. Their ages have been counted in days, weeks, and months since they were born.

I am . . . and there I pause.

How old am I? I forget.

I have never been very occupied with what age I am. I have been completely satisfied to be exactly the age I am. Should I line up my friends, you would see I tend to think the same thing about them. Friends on my list could have been my children, could have been my parents. Does not matter to me. They are my friends and I love them and enjoy spending time with them.

Since I don't spend much time thinking about age, time and again I simply forget how old I am. It can be embarrassing. One time I was interviewed by a newspaper about one of my art exhibitions in Oslo. The reporter asked my age. I could not remember and in my head frantically started counting decades from my birth year, trying to seem half-way intelligent, not dimwitted. She was young, probably in her twenties. She appeared to remember her own age perfectly well.

I laughed at my shortcoming. She did not.

I don't understand when people complain every birthday that they are a year older. Isn't it a great thing to be alive and take part in all the excitement yet another year? The alternative is a shorter life on earth. I don't think they see that as a better solution.

I must admit that my body seems to know that I am getting older even though my heart is oblivious to the thought altogether. A young heart will feel younger. It's as simple as that.

I have an "older" friend who has to mention almost every time she opens her mouth, that she is an old lady. I wish she would skip it now and then.

The love of my life is a year and a half older than me. That I remember. He s sooo much older than me.
He can still outrun the teenagers on the soccer field and has a boyish charm. Love that about him.

My art today is an oil painting - a place that can be enjoyed no matter the age.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Circle of Life in Our Families

The Circle of Life.

Elton Johns beautiful melody with lyrics by Tim Rice is a song that moves us.

We all experience this circle in our lives. Some members of the family finish their time on earth, others arrive as innocent infants with a life ahead of them.

This past week my 91 year old father-in-law quietly passed away. It was his time to go. A long life is over--at least, here on earth.

His expertise and talents were greatly developed during that time, relationships formed, endless stories told.

He was a storyteller, a man with much humor and entertaining tales up his sleeves.
I am grateful now for all the hours I spent next to him, notebook and pen on my lap, writing down all his words when he was in one of his telling moods.

People leave a legacy, a mark on the world. Every person is unique in their own way.

I am grateful today that I believe that families can be together forever, that we can see each other again.
And I am grateful for the time I had with Alf.

Today I have chosen a water color called "Family" and a photo of my parents-in-law.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Can Admiration be Dangerous?

I believe that a good portion of admiration is healthy for relationships, both close and long-distance ones.
Just think of how we look up to others because they are great sportsmen, amazing dancers, and inspirational orators. Those are usually people we don't know personally, people we will probably never meet in person. Still, they inspire us, entertain, and make us dream of what it would be like if only . . .

But what about looking up to someone you have a tight, personal relationship with? Can a dash of admiration be a good thing or is it boxed up only for TV-personalities?

Admiration for my husband and his talents is uplifting to me. I am never in competition with him. We are too different to ever have to compete one with another. Therefore, I can be in awe of his abilities and talents. He can do many things well that I can only dream of. And I am fine with that.

But is there danger in dwelling on admiration for our fellow beings--the people we meet, hear about, and associate with? Admiration can turn into envy, greed and even resentment if we go down the wrong path. The possible outcome is ending up disliking someone because they excel in one way or another.

A covetable attitude is definitely not an admirable trait.

It may sound like a cliché, but I believe love is the key. If we love someone enough, we will not want to hurt them in any way. We will want that person to be happy and rejoice with them when they progress. Admiration will become a stepping stone to positive thinking instead of a festering lump of bitterness.

I may go a little overboard in my admiration for others. I even admire Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, for being so patient and dedicated.

 One online dictionary says that admire means to look at someone or something with enjoyment.
Sounds like a good thing to me.

Today's art is an oil painting I painted in 1983. I am certain the Pharisees were secretly in awe of the young boy who knew the Scriptures so well.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween on a Windy Day

It's Halloween in the land of Norway.

Outside the noisy wind is grabbing hold of branches and tree trunks, swinging them from side to side, making spooky sounds, creaking and howling. Leaves dance wildly around in the air, aimlessly hurrying to who knows where.The birds have taken shelter today. Porcupines, badgers, deers, rodents--all the animals in the forest here by the Duck and Cherry are hiding, trying to find a dry spot to rest.

I am in the Broom Closet - or home office, or favorite room. Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, is sleeping on the floor next to my feet. I am surrounded by things that make me happy: my art supplies, books to read, books to learn from, my own manuscripts, baskets with ideas, notes with things to do, inspirational pictures and things from my childhood, fairy pictures, Amish bonnets, my Scriptures.

I may be strange, but I love hearing the storm outside and seeing the rain come down from darkened skies. It fills me with imaginative ideas. I
t creates feelings of gratefulness for the warmth of a good home.

On my wall hangs a large witch's hat. It hangs there all year, not only for Halloween. I also have a couple of brooms in the corner, waiting for me to learn how to ride them.
But tonight--tonight--I will let them earn their keep. Dressing up for the children who come trick or treating is always fun. And if I go outside I need to hold on to that hat.

Happy Halloween to everyone. Be safe and be glad.

Today's photo is of one of my Halloween decorations.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Bath for the Brave-Hearted

There are baths and other kind of baths.
There is also a lovely town in southern England named Bath.

But taking a bath or going in swimming this time of year in Norway is not for the faint-hearted.
Hector is such a being.

Our trip to Eljarbu, our cabin in the mountains last Friday-Saturday, was very nice. After working on lowering the ceiling in the sauna, we decided to go for a walk in the spectacular fall colored nature surrounding the cabin.

Three times Hector jumped into the lake for a bath. Three times.
Funny furry little guy, he did not even look like it was cold or seem to mind the freezing temperature of the water. Norway mountain lakes are cold even in the summer, but at the end of October . . .

It cleaned off some of the mud he had jumped into, and made him even more determined to jump and hop all around the area. Arnfinn figures Hector's walk was four times as long as ours.

A trip to a remote space in the mountains now and then is good for the body and the soul. Maybe you have another retreat that makes you happy. As long as it is a place to be yourself and relax and feel grateful for life.

This is the place I can wake up to the smell of eggs and bacon.

That does not happen at home.

Today's photos are from our walk.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bears and Pink Grandmothers

Babysitting munchkins a lot lately, happy me. What is better than snuggling with a warm, little two-year-old or discuss important matters with the older sibling?

We sat in the car yesterday and I told two of them about a dream I had just had. Scott said, "Mimmi, can you tell me about the dream I had about a dangerous bear?"

He always has the most interesting angles and ideas.

So I asked, "Well, was it a black bear or a brown one?"



So I told him about his dream until the little two-year old princess added, ". . .and about the pink grandmother who ate a banana."

Very interesting.

Imagination is a wonderful thing. Fantasy is under construction and keeps building our entire life.
Dig it out. Let it loose. Let it flow.
To have our thoughts and vision expanded by a conversation with a young child is a blessing. It encourages our creativity and resourcefulness, which by the time we are adults sometimes goes into hibernation--maybe never to wake up again.
I am fortunate--and grateful-- to come from a line of imaginative folks (sometimes imaginary), where playfulness and creativity have been encouraged and allowed to develop.

Today I have chosen two water colors; one of a house, like from a dream and the other of a castle, the kind we dream of living in.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Magic Wands and Brooms

I would have more time on my hands for fun projects and special activities if I had only had a magic wand and a flying broom.

I have one broom--two, in fact--two brooms that look a little like flying brooms, although not quite as fancy as Potter's Nimbus. I have written about the advantages of having a magic broom before in blog entries Petition for flying Brooms and Witch of the Reier Forest. I am still hoping that God will grant me a flying-a-broom lesson one day, and I still keep reading, studying, and writing about witch hunting. I find it fascinating, interesting, and scary.

Book number two is currently being written on my fancy little laptop, articles are sketched out for a historical magazine--in other words, the projects are lining up every day. So what's wrong with wishing for a magic wand? With a swish of my hand I could point the wand at the bathroom, laundry basket, floors, boxes of things, and voila! I could continue writing, and my house would magically be cleaned and organized.

Maybe for now I should just train Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, to help out with the household chores. He spends a lot of time sleeping.

Christmas is coming up in a couple of months. On my wish list still--a magic wand, a broom, and a gardener!

Photo today is the weather witch on top of the garage here at the Duck and Cherry.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lost and Found Keys

I take pride in always knowing where my keys are.
In my 29+ years on earth I have very seldom misplaced them. I am often looking for keys, but usually not mine. I look for papers, keys and other things for the handsome man who lives in this house.

My father had a large bucket with keys. You read it correctly--a large bucket. My mother was always helping him look for both keys and glasses. or some reason they were often somewhere else.

I have been looking for my key to our cabin for months. I just could not understand where it was. I always put keys back in place. Or so I thought,

So I made a Facebook event, invited our children with spouses, and also the love of my life.
The invitation was called "Looking for Heidi's cabin keys", in addition to an explanation that read, "I often loan you my keys and cannot find my cabin keys. It is a blue plaid key with a knitted purple owl key ring. Can anyone remember seeing it? I would be so happy to have it back (the date is random--just needed a time for the event)."

I sat back and waited. Surely one of our kids would step forward, apologetically explaining why my key had been in their possession for months and why they had forgotten all about it.

No one answered. Not a pip on the event page.

Until last weekend. We went to the cabin. I brought one of my spare keys. After a wonderful hike in the mountains, fall colors everywhere, a beautiful blue sky above, hot chocolate on thermoses, we returned to the cabin and I emptied out my pockets--and there was my long, lost key.

Embarrassed I wrote the following on the event page, "Found them at the cabin!! Thank you to everyone who turned their house upside down and spent the whole weekend searching for my keys . . . ha ha ha."

I don't expect any of our prescious children even thought about my keys, but embarrassed or not, I am thrilled to have them back.

But now, "likes" from our children keep coming in on this event and I admit
that even I can misplace keys--and other things.

Today's water color is called "Family".

Friday, October 11, 2013

Come Rain or Shine

I am an advocate for preparedness.

Not an expert, by far, not hysterical about doomsday prepping, nor being prepared both with supplies and military tactics to be the last living person on earth. Why would I want to be the last person running around in the fields? What's the point in that?

But being prepared is nevertheless vital and necessary. A food- and water storage, extra clothes, blankets, soap, candles etc. should be part of every household. Learning how to sprout seeds, to sew, and old-fashioned knowledge like canning can come in handy and prove to be life-saving one day.

We have all seen how quickly the shelves in grocery stores are emptied come a transportation strike or a climate disaster. Or what if our income has a set-back for a period of time? Preparedness can keep our family fed.

Deseret News article featuring National Geographic's "Doomsday Preppers", tells about emergency preparedness at its extreme. Mark Rappleye writes that "Homegrown carrots are the sharpest weapons Kathy has." Doomsday Preppers is now on television, showing preparedness at the ultimate extremity. For some it is an everyday, ongoing thing - preparing for the unknown.

Preparedness varies in different parts of the world. Some places struggle with times of extreme heat and high humidity, others experience climate changes with cold-weather conditions that will kill.

I have lived in areas of both types of climates and know how harsh the weather can be and how it takes lives, especially of the elderly, but also animals.

On the light side, are there things you believe you cannot live without?

I like having ice cream in the freezer--just in case . . .
I like having extra eggs in the refrigerator, as they can used for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert.
I like having pen and paper in my pocket at all times in case I get a revolutionary great idea.
I like having the people I love most within hugging distance.

Preparing in advance is maybe not such a bad idea. William Shakespeare said, "To be prepared for everything, is everything."

Smart guy.

Today's water colors are of two lighthouses, standing steadfast in both storms and on sunny days.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pay Attention to Trains

We have had some fun family trips. Venturing on a 3 1/2 week car trip through Europe with seven children in the car is no joke. Or maybe it is?
One summer we packed five children into a rental car and drove around England. We had a great vacation with some frustrating moments, but mostly amazing experiences.

On the scheduled day of our departure to fly back to the old country, we got all seven of us to Liverpool Street Station, a little scattered here and there, but mostly gathered . . .

The train heading for Stansted was in place and Arnfinn pushed me and the three youngest ones gently down the platform and told us to jump on the train and wait. The rest of the family would follow shortly.

I turned around and saw Linnea and Kajsa struggling to get their suitcases through the gate to the platform area, but obedient as I am, I got on the train with three youngest.

It did not take long before the doors closed and the train we were on left the station--not for Stansted--I still don't know where it was headed, leaving a surprised Arnfinn and two girls still at the Liverpool Street Station platform. I looked around in the carriage. No one had suitcases or baggage. They were just Londoners going home from work.

Had we chosen the wrong platform? Had the train for the airport already left? This was before I had a cell phone to rescue me out of any thinkable situation. I sat there with three children watching the city gradually turn into rural landscape and beautiful English countryside.

It took quite a while before the train stopped at a station. We got off, ran across to the opposite platform and waited for a train to take us back to Liverpool Street Station.

Miraculously, we made it back. We found the rest of the family, got on the very next train for the airport, and we made the last call for our flight back to Norway.

It turned out that a local train sat in front of the Stansted Express, ready to leave a few minutes before the longer airport carriage.

It's important to pay attention to which way we are heading in life.
Know the trains. Know where they are going and when.
We thought we chose the right way, but obviously we were not attentive enough.
With a little work and a lot of prayer, it turned out well, but we have often wondered what would have happened if I had not been there with the three children right as the train left the station.

Today it makes a funny story to tell. Hopefully, we learned something, too.

Today's water colors are of roads leading somewhere.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Do I Have to Explain Myself?

Many years ago I watched an interview with Priscilla Presley. The reporter asked her which of her deceased husband, Elvis Presley's, songs were her favorite. She simply stated that it should not be required of her to have an opinion about that.
Surprised me, it did. I would have thought she had many opinions about his music. After all, she was married to the man. He produced many beautiful and cool tunes.
Maybe it was her way of not involving herself too much. She probably had more opinions than she needed to reveal to the whole world through an interview.

In the classic Disney movie "Mary Poppins" starring Julie Andrews as a nanny, Mary is confronted with the question, "Mary Poppins, what is the meaning of this?"
The father of the house, a busy and frustrated banker, wants to know why his children turned up at the bank causing an array of disturbances. Mary looks at him, no hesitation, no lack of self-confidence, and simply answers, "I never explain anything."

Do we owe other people an opinion? Are we required to explain ourselves? My mother told me that when I was asked why or who or what as a little girl, I answered, "Because." That was all. No explanation given. No excuses. Just because.

As an adult, I guess, I feel the need to explain more. But not always. Oftentimes, action is better than words. Making a statement can be shown through the life we live and the things we do.

But asking, not for an explanation, but the feelings and thoughts of another person, is vital. It makes us good listeners. It helps us show we care. It involves respect and love, not merely demanding an explanation.

It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightening in the hand.
Apache Proverb

Today's water color is called "Chicken Wash".

Monday, September 23, 2013

How Many Words Are in Your Head?

When I fall asleep at night, Arnfinn reads. When I wake up in the morning, he reads.
One morning, groggy, eyes narrow, I asked, "How many words are in your head? You know, roughly estimated?"
He answered, "How many years do we go back?"

As if he knows from year to year how many words have accumulated in his head and how much of the written word he has devoured.

Reading is a fascinating adventure, a learning  process, a necessity. I have an aunt who doesn't read books. I would feel I missed out on a wealth of treasures if I did not read. Living in Louisiana  many years ago, I got to know a woman about my age. She was illiterate. I tried to imagine her life; not being able to expand her thoughts, her knowledge, her life, with the witten word.

What to choose? There's a big difference between a volume about technical engineering and a romantic historical. A children's adventure by Swedish authoress Astrid Lindgren is very different from reading religious works by Hugh Nibley or Neal A. Maxwell. There are poems, short stories, biographies, history books . . .

So much to choose from.

Be picky. The words and stories you place on the hard drive in your brain stays there. What do you really want to fill your head with?
Read to learn, to expand your vocabulary, to enlighten your mind.
Read to go to new places, adevnture into unknown realms.
Read to relax.

My other blog Reading and Writing WORDS is about just that . . . the enjoyment of writing good words and reading even better ones.

Do you have favorite words?
An American friend of mine lived in Norway for a few years. Her favorite Norwegian word was strømpebukse, which means pantyhose, just for the fun of trying to pronounce it.
Try saying refrigerator in Spanish, pronouncing Dutch and Swiss words, or making gutteral utterings and clicking African sounds.

My father was so funny when he tried to speak foreign words. They turned out more complicated and strange than they originally were.

Right now I am delving into Citadel by Kate Mosse. I love it. I see Sandrine and her friends, I imagine the places they travel, I hear their voices, I go where they go and feel what they feel.

So read a good book today and enjoy it.

Today's water color is of a reading fairy.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Autumn Approaching

Autumn with its rich, warm colors, crisp air, and shorter days. We are blessed with the beauty of nature and the excitement of the many changes of the seasons. Our thoughts focus on harvesting, preparing for winter, how to arrange holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. I turn the heaters in the house on--then off--then back on again. I have dug up a hat and scarf to wear on evening walks with Hector, the Wheaten Terrier. 
It is about enjoying good things in life, good friends, good food, and most of all family.

Today I have uploaded a few of my autumn water colors. I hope you will enjoy them.