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.