Thursday, February 28, 2013

More than skiing?

Today as I look out the window we have fantastic "Easter weather".
This is actually a genuine way of describing the weather here in the land of the north. Any Norwegian will know what I mean.

I just spent a few days at our cabin Eljarbu with family. Often when I experience the vast space of white snow and the total stillness of nature, I wished everyone in the world could have a day or more like that. People who only see tall buildings and hear sounds of traffic, who are concerned with surviving in a concrete jungel, they all deserve a day in the beauty of the mountains in winter.

It makes folks happy, just being there. I tell you, the occasional cross country skiers you meet on the slopes smile and say hello--and that's not really normal among Norwegians. They are just not that open with strangers.

My problem is embarrassing to admit, but to a person who can easily peel seven potatoes when Arnfinn peels one, I have to say that everyone passes me on the tracks there among snow crystals and trees. I mean, even seventy or eighty year-olds easily outrun me. What's up with that? Poor Arnfinn and Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, take waiting breaks more often than I want to admit, so that I may catch up with them.
Fact: I will never be the next Petter Northug.

There's more to a day in the mountains than skiing. (I can just see Arnfinn lifting his eyebrows, asking surprisingly, "There is?") Just see him and Hector swooshing through the white stuff and imagine me way in the back taking pictures, maybe wiping a tear or two of gratefulness for being allowed to be part of God's nature like that.

The colors of nature are wisely painted to give us comfort, diversity, and excitement. The cobolt blue sky and white snow with cerulean and purplish shadows, the deep green pine trees all add to the calming feeling. Had the sky above been bright orange continuously and the trees signal red, we would have been too keyed up and the serenity would have to be sought elsewhere. Warm and bright colors are saved for the enjoyment of a beautiful sunrise or sunset. It's all part of a wise creation plan for our sanity and the need for variety and beauty.

So, is there more to the mountains than skiing? Yes, to me coming back to the cabin, drinking hot chocolate with whipped cream, eating a nice dinner with family, and playing games with the warm fire roaring in the black oven--that's part of the adventure.

Photos today: a double exposure of Anya and her baby Sienna inside the cabin, with me taking the photo out on the veranda - Arnfinn and Hector skiing - Sienna playing in the cabin with the large teddy bear - Hector eating his meal outside - and an amazing and strange sunrise. It was shaped like the Eiffel Tower. Ever seen anything like that?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines and Humor

Humor is a life-saver and help in a home.
I have found it's so much easier to get past sour moments and misunderstanding by injecting a little fun into the situation and not take myself so seriously.
Is it easy? No, not always.
Is it a worthwhile to try? Definitely.
It can absolutely help dry tears and allow good feelings to flow back into the relationship.

A friend of mine bought 50 pairs of socks for her husband. Well, he wanted more socks, preferably the same color, so that it would be easier to match them.
She hung 50 small packages in a tree and on Christmas he had to wade through the snow and climb the tree to pick the parcels off the branches.
He did not think it was funny at the time. But we as bystanders found it hilarious.

So often a ridiculous situation turns into a good story later--one that we can tell in good company and laugh about.

Today on FB, a Finnish friend wrote, "I dig friends."
A few minutes later her husband replied, "Just need to remember where they are buried."

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.
Today's water color means a lot to me. It is a reminder of the days my husband courted me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Strong-willed Women

Laura felt a warmth inside her. It was very small, but it was strong. It was steady, like a tiny light in the dark, and it burned very low but no winds could make it flicker because it would not give up.
Laura Ingalls Wilder

February 7, 1867: Generations of suburban schoolchildren learned how to churn butter (at least in theory!) thanks to author and pioneer woman Laura Ingalls Wilder. She was born 146 years ago.

Women who won't give up.
There are some of those in our family. Generations of them in fact. Strong-willed, determined, but lovable and caring women. Women with integrity. Women with a desire to do good and make their surroundings happy and beautiful. Women who give more than what is expected to help someone or care for someone.

I am blessed to have many great examples surrounding me. These women come in all shapes and sizes. Some are young, some older, some have walked this earth before I came here. Some are our grandchildren--or munchkins, as I call them.

I learn from these women in our family. They teach me things. They probably don't even know. My mother was one who had great influence and brought happiness into my life.

When Linnea was born my mother held her in her arms and said, "This one has a strong will." And she was right. I was always aware of that as she grew up and tried to channel her in good directions, as she had to believe she made all the decisions herself. Fortunately she made good choices and still does.

Our three-year-old munchkin, Emma, looks like an angel and has the will of ten wild bulls. Her latest expression the other day when her grandfather and I were babysitting and tried to get her to go to bed was, "I will what I will".

Today's art is an oil painting I did of my mother and Linnea many years ago.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Blessed Winter 's Day

January has come and gone and already we notice here in the land of the north that the mornings are lighter and the birds are starting to sing in the tree tops--that's even including the crow that loudly announced his presence as I walked with Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, past one of the large trees around the Duck and Cherry. You would think it had young ones to protect, but it's a little too early for that still. It was just loud.

In fact the crow or jackdaw, is the emblem of Moss town. We have quite a few of them living around here. Must have been like that before also. I like them, except when they tease my dog.

This week Linnea added another entry to her blog Pursuit of Elephants. She talks about how because of a small budget as newlyweds they must limit their traveling. They have decided to bring the world into their home by cooking a new meal from a foreign country every week.

I have never posted recipes here. I don' profess to be an amazing cook in any way. But my children are still alive and my husband and I have a high count of antioxidants (see blog Me and Dr. Oz) so I am doing OK, I guess. But for a culinary confession I can tell you that this time of year one of my favorite foods is a steaming hot soup full of colorful vegetables, rich broth, good herbs, and maybe some chicken or turkey if I have some available. It's a winner every time, goes down easily, and is even healthy. Add homemade rolls with a dash of real butter to that and I am in heaven.

So today is a blog praising winter on a normal, cozy day around here. Photos of Hector taking a nap on the front porch, tulips in the house to brighten my day, two funny love birds, and our beloved home and the view from the back side of the house.

Winter is quiet, serene, and beautiful.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Very well, with certain exceptions.

Very well, with certain exceptions.

Where is this quote from? Actually from a school report when Arnfinn was a child. I can just imagine that blonde little cutie being a good pupil and behaving well, though not always.
His teacher told Arnfinn's mother that if she could get Arnfinn on her side, she had the whole class in her hand. Oh, the power of a child.

When my mother was young she was forced to write with her right hand. Being left-handed too, I can understand how difficult that would be. The most unfair statement appeared on her school report: "Solveig writes badly." No one ever explained that she was actually left-handed.
Sometimes teachers can be insensitive.

I remember some of my teachers; the one who said she would smear the chewing gum in our hair if she saw us chewing in class; the one who said he would personally eat our lunch if we took it out during class; the one  who took my ball away during recess and never returned it when I showed it to him.

But I also have fond memories of the one who painstakingly read Les Miserable for us during class; the one who appreciated my love of languages; the ones who helped me learn and enjoy the development.

Being a teacher can in fact be a holy calling--if we magnify it and take it to heart. In a way we are all teachers  every day. We teach each other, we are examples for good and bad, and create experiences and opportunities for growth and knowledge.

I feel I still learn every day. My life is an ongoing process of personal growth. Both good and not so good days are a part of the school of life. Flowers need rain to blossom.  Trees need wind and dry days to stretch their roots far into the ground. I have learned much from the hardships I have experienced.

Teaching No Greater Call is an excellent resource book for teaching, especially in church related classes.

Today's water color is a fairy being taught by a wise owl.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Vivaldi and Music for My Munchkins

Last Sunday evening we had an elderly gentleman visit us at the Duck and Cherry. He told about how he had sung to his unborn son many years ago and elaborated on Vivaldi and how his music affects us.

I was proud to tell him that I played Vivaldi's Four Seasons for my children on Sunday mornings as they were growing up and that I had actually played it that same morning.

It's not just Vivaldi.
Baroque music--Händel, Bach, Telemann, and Monteverdi--will do the same for our senses.

This is because the music is symmetrical, changing between faster and slower parts, high and low notes. We become relaxed, while our brain stays active. It's wonderful for studying, for memorizing words and structures, and also problem solvings. It stimulates our senses and our attention.
Simply put, the music will actually stimulate our right side of the brain so that images will form with the words we study to help us remember even better. It also affects our breathing and helps with stress symptoms. Sometimes dentists and doctors use this type of music to calm patients.

I sang to Linnea's little girl the other day. She is still cuddling and growing in her mama's belly, but come May we will meet her and get to know her.
She is now able to hear and enjoy music.

Read another blog entry on Tales from the Duck and Cherry about an experiment with mice and classical music:

Today's water color is of four friends taking a stroll in the park.