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.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Today, one of our little munchkins has a birthday. Sweet is absolutely a word to describe a two-year-old.
Yes, a toddler can be a pesticus at times, a word used by her great-grandmother from California, describing my little ones many years ago. They can wear us out, smear unmentionable things on walls, throw things down the toilet, and there are times when we wonder why they didn't come with a mute button, or at least a volume control--but they are sweet, innocent, and absolutely lovable little creatures.

When I look at her, I am reminded of her mother. She was just as stubborn, just as willful, just as enchantingly sweet. I often told her, "I am stubborner than you!" I tried to keep up with her, pretending I was more stubborn, when I knew better. I also said, "I hope you get a daughter exactly like you!"

My wish was pretty much fulfilled. Sienna''s eyes and hair are lighter, but other that that, they are both pink, feminine, strong, and adorable.

Sweet can come in handy in many situations in life. My mother used to say, "You catch more flies with sugar than you do with vinegar." And she was right. Being friendly and helpful is a much better course in life than ruthlessly elbowing one's way about.

Saying sweet words can brighten someone's day, dry up a tear, encourage when winds are blowing hard enough to make branches break and fall on the ground. A smile, a kind act, a hug can rescue a discouraged attitude and downtrodden feeling.

I have been lucky to have people around me lately, who have acted sweet towards me. Now it's up to me to pay forward the kind gestures and hugs.

Anne Bradstreet was the first American colonist to publish poetry--and that way back in 1672. This shocked some in Puritan society.
She wrote,

Sweet words are like honey, a little may refresh, but too much gluts the stomach.

I agree with her that flattering someone without meaning it, using words untruthfully for personal gain, and exaggerate when the words coming out of your mouth are different from what you feel can be wrong. Such praise is see-throughable.
But still, I believe we can all do well by practicing being sweet and saying kind, uplifting words to others.

Sweetness can become a habit. It can be exercised.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What are Tree Toes?

There's a path that leads from the Duck and Cherry, down through the woods towards the open sea. It winds its way next to the neighboring estate with grazing sheep and horses, and as the landscape opens up at the end of the thicket the ocean can be seen in clear view.

Every time I wander this way, be it during the summer or on crisp snow covered winter's days, I always exclaim how beautiful it is. Arnfinn must have heard it so many times. But there's a certain gratefulness that swells within me. Yesterday as we rode our bicycles with Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, the sheaves of grain on the fields above the beach were golden, waiting for harvest and the time of reaping. The leaves on the trees are slowly changing into analogous shades of yellow, orange, and brown. The days are still warm and sunny. The night are crisp. That I can see this with my eyes, smell the scents, hear the birds, is all a wonder to me. A wonder I am thankful for.

A few days ago Hector, the Wheaten Terrier and I brought two of the munchkins down this way. They wanted to find the sheep and horses. We played games along the way, sang songs, and wondered if we could see tigers, and lions, and bears, and more. Sienna, two years old, claimed she could smell elephants and her brother wondered if we could go see them. He remembered last year how we actually came upon an elephant and some camels in those same woods. A circus had settled down by the school and the large animals rested in the shade next to the path we walk on. That was a suprise! See previous blog entry here for that story.

Exploring nature with little children is amazing. Large roots, easy to trip on, wound back and forth on the path. I explained that they were tree toes, an analogy easily picked up by curious little ones. Scott was amused by the thought that trees had such long toes.

Going back the 3 years old big brother was tired. "I would like to sit in the stroller with Sienna," he said. "She can sit on my lap. I can handle it." He jumped into the stroller, we placed the little sister on his lap, and he gently put his arms around her. No complaints, just happy to sit with her up the last hill.

Why am I witing all this? It portrays the things I treasure--family, home, nature--everyday blessings.

Those are the best.