Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Wonder

I wonder . . .
The phrase gives a picture in my mind of a someone thinking, eye brows close together, eyes squinted, mouth puckered in a ponderous and quiet mode, maybe the right index finger tapping on the chin.

H.P. Lovecraft said, "Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability."

I wonder is a situation of what ifs and curious speculations. But it also means being filled with admiration and awe over something. Sometimes wondering means doubting, when you're not sure that something is going to happen.
It can also be a feeling--wondering why, wondering how . . .

I know we are still a few months away from Christmas, but the carol I Wonder as I Wander written by folklorist and singer John Jacob Niles is about wondering.

Historically, wondering has been looked at as an important drive behind intellectual speculation, claiming that emotions in general are reactions to unexpected phenomena. Descartes, French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist, called it the first of all passions.

I wonder quite a bit. Thoughts race around in my head, conversations happen sometimes without my consent, ideas form, unstoppable creativity is at large.

What to do about it? It's part of who we are. The best thing is to go along and have fun with the creative, wondering wonders. Let them lead you on new paths, to new territories. Let them widen your horizon.

And that's the wonder of it all.

Today's water color shows s fairy boy writing down his wondrous, ponderous thoughts.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thor of Thunder

My pre-Christian ancestors believed in a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder and lightening.

Thor, whose name is the origin of the weekday Thursday and whose father was the famous Odin, claims a fair space in Viking poetry.

"Thor is out with his hammer again." The many thunder storms in this part of the world during the summer remind us of this particular god of old Norse mythology.

The other day I wandered down the road with our oldest munchkin, Emma. Thunder roared above us and I explained in simple turns--so that both she and I could understand--about clouds crashing together and the noise such an event produced.

Reactions to thunder and lightening are varied. My aunt was scared to death of thunder storms, pulled out all electrical cords, and stayed far away from the sockets. Our last dog, Choice ran into the shower and stayed there until the storm passed, while Hector, the Wheaten Terrier stands out on the porch and looks up towards the sky, wondering what that sound is.

We used to bring our kids outside to watch the weather phenomena. Our favorite lightening storms were definitely in Austria. The whole landscape lit up from spurts of lightening in a row and ran along the mountain range beyond our property. And just as their ancestors were thrilled as dark clouds rolled in across distant hills after vigorous rituals of dancing and chanting to invoke rain, so our children enjoyed watching the scenery change and mother nature do her thing.

People approach me, wondering why I--a happy, cheerful being--paint dark and rainy skies on many of my paintings. The reason is simple; I like thunder clouds. They are pretty. The colors are magnificent.

I can recommend the 2011 movie "Thor". It's exciting and at times touching. That the Australian actor, Chris Hemsworth, plays Thor is definitely no drawback. I bet the son of Odin looked something like that.

Today's water colors are of rainy, stormy days.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Burgruine Schaumburg and Other Fun Places

Not many minutes drive from our home of five years in Austria lies a ruin, the remains of a fortress built some 860 years ago (1154-1161), and once the largest fortress in Oberösterreich.

Burgen-schloesser-hartkirchen1It's on a hill, the view is spectacular, and definitely a trip worth while for history buffs like me. The name is derived from the words "vom Berg schauen", which means view from the hill and was through the years--through the centuries, rather--owned by various counts, struggling to keep it, struggling for power and position.

Why am I bringing this up? Many fortresses and castles are far more beautiful, even better kept.

I love history. For some reason, I imagine that other must, too. But the truth is, not everybody has a passion for it like I do. A few years ago I presented a distant relative across the sea with an extensive genealogical paper on her ancestry, names and dates and stories I had collected and worked on over many, many years. She did not thank me. She was not impressed with all the hours of research. She was not the slightest interested in stories of people in whose footsteps she is now walking. She simply said, "I am not interested in dead people."

Fc3e2b54-f502-fbd4-7d52-411f5f8ca9beWell, I am interested in those who walked before me and in the lives they led, places they lived, things they did. I love art history with boundless enthusiasm, studied that and the history of clothing at the university. I loved history in school growing up, started family history research as a fifteen year old, and when I enter a bookstore I automatically steer towards the historical fiction section.

When I visit an old fortress, church, or castle I imagine being there among the people who lived there centuries ago. It's fun to employ the imagination and hear the sounds, sense the smells, and capture the daily life of young and old. How can anyone not enjoy that?

The photo of Arnfinn after the bicycle race in the blog entry "Clean" from last week was taken at the fortress of Fredriksten in Halden, Norway, the finish line of the 80 km race. The fortress was designed in 1661 by my 9th great-grandfather, Wyllem Coucheron. How cool isn't that?

I have learned a lot about him, but wish I knew more.
Photos from Internet of Schaumburg Ruin and also Fredriksten Festning (Fortress), below, taken last Saturday.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Real Life Versus Movies

Things aren't always what we think they are.

I have at times been worried or perplexed about certain situations--without reason--as my worries are groundless in the real world.
Let me explain.

I once watched "Top Gun" with a fighter pilot. Tom Cruise and his pilot companion fly through the skies, one upside down above the other. Next to me on the couch I hear, "They can't do that."

This summer I spoke with a retired FBI agent. I asked him if they charge in, dozens of cars with sirens and lights, like in the movies. He said, "No, not at all. It's just like that on film."

I watched the news showing a demonstration in Moscow, serious journalism about horrible conditions. Someone who had just been there told me, "I was there in the middle of it. It wasn't like that at all."

I recently had break pads and rotors on our car replaced. I explained to the mechanic how worried I had been, imagining stepping on the break on a downward hill--and nothing. He calmed me down and explained that that would not happen.

So my latest endeavor is going to an osteopath. He works on stress factors in my neck and for some reason likes to "crack" it to give the crammed up vertebrae more space. I dislike this procedure a whole bunch. It reminds me of too many detective shows where someone is being killed by twisting his head and breaking the neck. My osteopath, who happens to be my son in law, keeps reminding me how improbable that really is. He knows much more about anatomy than I do and knows what he is talking about.

So I probably should not worry so much. I love going to the movies. I love watching shows at home, Arnfinn next to me on the couch, something to snack on in front of us. Real life is better.

I feel I can still learn a lot from going to see an exciting show. I learn about people, relationships, right and wrong, good and bad, and I am usually very much in love when I return home after a happy ending.

Today's water color is called "Transylvania". Is it beautiful or scary?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


As I looked at this picture of Arnfinn from last Saturday, some thoughts came to mind. He had just finished an 80 km bicycle competition from a small town in Sweden across the border into Norway. I dropped him off and waited a few hours at the finish line where he arrived happy, exhausted, and very dirty.

According to "The Free Dictionary" CLEAN means being free from dirt and pollution. In the photo this is obviously the goal before putting Arnfinn and his bike in my clean car.

What more does clean mean? There is more to is than clean drinking water, clean air, and a clean house.

Not infected means a clean wound.
A clean throw is free from clumsiness.
A clean getaway means a successful escape.
A clean voting record says a person has no marks or discredit.
A clean manuscript needs few alternations.
A clean fighter is honest and fair.
Being clean can means not carrying a weapon nor being accused of a crime.
A clean joke is proper for all audiences.
Being clean can mean not addicted to drugs.
Clean is a perfume which by its description evokes some of the best moments and simplest pleasures in life. (Sounds wonderful.)
It's a movie with Nick Nolte.
Its a name for home remedies, home schooling, classroom materials, energy, beauty products, a programming language, an Indie rock band from New Zealand, an so on.
Clean fuel means a more efficient engine.

The list goes on and on. I have to admit that to clean is on my list, not always among my favorite chores, not always fun, but so rewarding. A clean house makes me feel great and seems to lift my spirit.

But there's more to it. To lead a clean life means being morally pure and virtuous. It is having a clean conscience, not living a life where one hurts oneself or others.

There's always hope. There's always time to change things in our life. Get rid of dirt. It can be improving little things in our life or starting a new chapter.

After all, a clean page means starting anew.

Photos of Arnfinn and our munchkin, the mudpuddle fairy, Sienna.

Friday, August 2, 2013

My Feet Want to Be Free

My feet want to be free.

Free to walk on free land.
Free to walk next to people I love.
Free to wander through the forest on peaceful paths.
Free to turn around when they are going the wrong direction.
Free to stop, if necessary.
Free to dance when joyous music is played.
Free to follow in the footsteps of people I admire.
Free to kick off my shoes under the chair on warm Sunday afternoons in church.
Free to rest upon the couch and wiggle my toes.
Free to dress up with high heels.
Free to wear hiking boots.
Free to be barefooted.


Free to be me.