Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chocolate in the Rain (or any other time)

It's raining.

Funny me, but I really like rain. It's refreshing,
It gives me the opportunity to sit and watch, sipping warm herbal tea or even better--hot chocolate--listening to the soft downpour.
It also gives me the chance to put on a rubber boots, a warm coat and a funny, floppy hat and walk Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, down the paths in the woods by the Duck and Cherry. He really does not care if it's rain or shine.

I have three problems with the rain today, but they are "overcomeable". I have the living room rug hanging out on the veranda. Airing it out has taken on a new meaning now that it is also semi-wet under the tarpaulin. Also, Hector's wooly fur will be quite dirty when we eventually meander outside. And, probably the problem I struggle with the most today--it is such a chocolate kind of day. I have already had several pieces and the urge does not seem to go away.

I have heard that eating the same amount of white and brown chocolate will give you a well-balanced meal, that chocolate is made from beans and is actually a vegetable, and that the great tragedies of old were written by people who did not know chocolate.

A writer and artist like me, who spends a lot of time pinned down on a chair, warm socks on the feet, and a table filled with papers, sketches, notes, and books, I tell myself that putting the chocolate a few paces away in the kitchen, is great exercise. You get up and walk across the room and get one little piece at a time.

So, the following saying suits me just fine:

“Chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits.” 
― Justus von Liebig

And while I'm at it,I will give you a few more clever sayings about chocolate?

 “It was like having a box of chocolates shut in the bedroom drawer. Until the box was empty it occupied the mind too much.” 
― Graham GreeneThe Heart of the Matter

  “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” 
― Charles M. Schulz

“The End is Nigh!" the man shouted.
"Is there still time for hot chocolate?" Riley asked.
The-End-is-Nigh guy blinked. "Ah, maybe, I don’t know.” 
― Jana OliverForbidden

“A dark-chocolate truffle melts in my mouth, and I forget about everything else ... even the fact that I'm on a diet.” 
― Barbara Brooke

Enjoy a piece or three. . . 

Photograph - courtesy of unsplash.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Admiring the Neighbors

Everyday treasures can be found in your neighborhood. It depends what you look for? It depends how you define treasure.

We live on the same street year after year. We meet neighbors across a common fence, through bushes bordering our properties, in front of garage doors. We chat about the weather, the lack of snow shovelling tractors appearing on snowy days, and which trees should be cut down.

I have not always had neighbors like that. Nice ones, who care about others and contribute to a friendly atmosphere on our little street.
We once had a property with plans for building a home to suit the needs of our family, but when we found out that one neighbor had shot the other neighbor's dog and a third one was collecting signatures to get our family off the street (because they did not like the design of our house). Needless to say, we sold our property and moved on to friendlier pastures.

Life is simply too short to waste on strife and collecting enemies.

The Duck and Cherry is firmly planted on a street with a variety of interesting neighbors. They are good people and I like them.

I brought my camera on a morning walk with Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, and captured some of the clever ideas my neighbors display. I admire my neighbors for what they have accomplished on their lots.

Here are some of the things I especially like:

An easy nature friendly garden without much fuss. 
Flower beds are up on the front side of the house.

Nice-looking and clever bin made for drying and storing wood for cold winter months.

Massive wall resembling a Greek fortress supports the hill towards this house.

Excellent workmanship from this stone art work in front of a garage.

Gates on the allee with two porter's lodges on either side.

Berry bushes planted on the corner of a property, 
which otherwise would stand useless and unnoticed.

Pretty flower beds. 
They belong to the neighbor I ask for advice on everything garden, 
like when and how to prune the apple and plum trees.

Nicely built stone planter.

View from the allee. Old trees and stone fences on either side. 
Sheep on the meadow.

Our own stone wall. Arnfinn dug the soil by hand and built this fence. 
I especially like the curve shown here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Seasonal Ramblings

Many people have favorite seasons of the year.
We have just experienced one of the best summers Norway has ever had. Pleasing warm days, sunshine, swimming, hiking, and eating outside. In a country where the sun is absent during the winter months--that is does not rise high enough on the horizon--I would say that many Norwegians worship sunshine and get excited when the thermostat creeps above the 20 degree Celsius line.

Not everyone has summer as their favorite season. There are actually those who prefer the crisp days of winter with its contrasting hues; dark green pine against white snow and bright blue skies or days when sky and snowy grounds seems to be melted together in a fluffy, soft, rosy-white coldness.
Some prefer the season of renewal, chirping birds running to and fro building nests and clucking brooks bringing the melted snow downstream.
Or autumn, the colorful, fiery season when school starts, apples are harvested, preparations for indoor activities flourish, and anticipation for the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the agenda.

Me, I like them all. I love living in a country with changing seasons. I love the way nature changes and being in God's creation during all kinds of weather.

I believe I change a little with the seasons, too. The expectant, anxious feeling of what a season entails, the thrill over what that season will bring and what I will learn, is exciting to me.

But if someone would ask me straight forward, "What is your favorite season?" I believe I would answer spring again and again. Even though autumn for some reason makes me feel more creative, summer lifts me up with rays of sunshine and wonderful smell of rain on fields of clover, and winter takes me outside for walks on white paths of serenity.

I have lived in countries without changing seasons, evergreen areas of our planet where hats and gloves are redundant. I missed the seasons, the changes in climate and hours of daylight. I longed for spring flowers to pop up in patches where the shy warmth of sunshine had melted the snow. I missed watching the migrating birds in the sky and noticing how plants go dormant or come alive.

The warmer climates have their seasons, too, but it's a simpler version of mild and cool, hurricane or typhoon season, and wet and dry.

Just like preferring a certain season, we have opinions about where we enjoy living.
Much variety, even more people with different opinions.

That's life.

Today's water colors are of migrating birds and a farm in summer.