Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Everey Writer Shoud Have a Dog

Every writer should have a dog.

Why? What does that mean? Having a dog is a lot of work. It's like having an exrra child in the house. It means taking care of it,

But it's so much more than that. A dog takes care of you.

  • My dog gets me out of the chair.
  • He reminds me that I need to take a break. I have to take him for walks several times a day, in any kind of weather.
  • I feel loved and appreciated.
  • I feel safe.
  • He is a role model when it comes to napping.
  • He comforts me when I'm sad. He does. He knows, and comes to make me feel better.
  • He reminds me to play and never says no.
  • It's a  loving friend on days when I sit all alone with my words and story-in-the-making.
  • He is an excellent friend and will take the time to listen, if I need to read my story out loud.
  • He never criticizes my writing, but loves me for who I am.

I recently read an article called 8 Ways That Dogs Are Good For Your Mind, Body, And Soul
This article will back me up.
Having a dog is good for you. My life would be so much emptier without Hector the Wheaten Terrier, my good and loving friend.

Here are a few photos to show some of Hectors important jobs:

Protecting visiting munchkins.

Chrcking out the neighborhood every few hours.

Serious napping.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Joy of Anticipation

Christmas time brings me more joy than I can explain in words. It's something about the anticipation of things to come, the happiness of preparing surprises, and the joy of opening the heart and home to family and friends. It's as if I travel with the magi, following the star, excited to meet the Savior of mankind.
Wonder of wonder. Miracles of miracles.
Just believe.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Seven kind of Christmas treats

Christmas traditions.

It's December and time to bake.
According to old Norwegian customs and traditions, a household should bake no less than 7 different kinds of Christmas cookies.
Christmas was special in olden days and nothing was spared. The best ingredients and TIME should be spent preparing for the holidays.
Every home prepared in their own way, the country farms would bake their own, but there were also professional baking folk, women went from place to place, offering their experise, The baked for those who could afford to pay. 7 different kinds. Which baked goods varied.

I asked my mother-in-law about her Christmas baking. What did she do with seven children and a busy household?

"I baked 13 or 14 different kinds," was her answer.
I believe it. She is amazing, always doing her best to make traditions a special treat for her family.
I asked her which kinds she baked. She started on her list - goro, krumkake, fattigmann . . .

By the time she had listed all the baked goods she made for her family for Christmas, I had counted 15 different kinds.

Today my mother-in-law is 90 years old. Still busy. Still making us feel welcome at Christmas time or any time of the year.

To many Norwegians, baking 7 different kinds of treats, is a must before Christmas Eve arrives. Homemade goods taste better, and are more special to serve, should a visitor or two drop by the house. Besides, when you do your own baking,
the whole house is filled with the smell of Christmas.

Today's water color is a traditional Norwegian "nisse", bringing presents to the people in a small farm.

Source: Nasjonalbiblioteket

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Becoming partly-minimalist

Joshua Becker is known for his pursuit of becoming a minimalist. I love to read his blog entries, full of sound, down to earth advice on how to enjoy more by having less.
It's a fact in my life, that clutter and messes make me tired. Carrying things from room to room instead of getting rid of some things, is something I have done forever. True, our family is large. True, we have treasures from a long life (at least treasures to us), and also things from our parents that we don't have the heart to get rid of . . . not yet, anyway.
But still, there are many things we don't need. A cardboard box that has not been opened in 10 years - do we really need it? What's in it anyway? I forget.
And so many extra this and thats, that fill up closet and cupboard space, just in case we need it.
I am a firm believer in being prepared and having a storage of food and important necessities, but this is not what I am talking about. To be quite honest - I have things in my house I don't need! 
Joshua Becker has come much further down the road to decluttering a life than I have. And I will probably never be as perfect about it as he is. Maybe deep inside I don't want to, or don't feel that a barren house is me. But I want to clean out unwanted and unneeded things in my house and life - a little by little. I know how good I feel every time I tidy up and throw some things out or give away something to charity.
Here is what Joshua Becker says about the idea of becoming minimalist:
After a conversation with my neighbor on Memorial Day 2008, we decided to become minimalist and intentionally live with fewer possessions. We cleared the clutter from our home and lives.
As a result, we found a better way to live centered on more important pursuits. It has been a journey of discovering the abundant life is actually found in owning less. And it still ranks as one the best decisions we’ve ever made.
But Joshua Becker has taken "becoming minimalist" further. Things and possessions are not what gives us value, something entirely different gives our lives fulfillment and value. Now, this I can truly vouch for and live with.
Read this entry from his blog:

35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” —Kahlil Gibran
I have countless holiday memories. Most of them center around faith, family, and traditions.
Very few childhood memories actually include the gifts I received. I distinctly remember the year that I got a blue dirt bike, the evening my brother and I received a Nintendo, and opening socks every year from my grandparents. But other than that, my gift-receiving memories are pretty sparse. Which got me thinking… what type of gifts can we give to our children that they will never forget? What gifts will truly impact their lives and change them forever?
To that end, here is an alphabetical list.
35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget:
1. Affirmation. Sometimes one simple word of affirmation can change an entire life. So make sure your children know how much you appreciate them. And then, remind them every chance you get.
2. Art. With the advent of the Internet, everyone who wants to create… can. The world just needs more people who want to…
3. Challenge. Encourage your child to dream big dreams. In turn, they will accomplish more than they thought possible… and probably even more than you thought possible.
4. Compassion/Justice. Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, I want my child to be active in helping to level it.
5. Contentment. The need for more is contagious. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for being content with what they have… but not with who they are.
6. Curiosity. Teach your children to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not. “Stop asking so many questions” are words that should never leave a parents’ mouth.
7. Determination. One of the greatest determining factors in one’s success is the size of their will. How can you help grow your child’s today?
8. Discipline. Children need to learn everything from the ground-up including appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve their dreams. Discipline should not be avoided or withheld. Instead, it should be consistent and positive.
9. Encouragement. Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. The simple words that you choose to speak today can offer encouragement and positive thoughts to another child. Or your words can send them further into despair. So choose them carefully.
10. Faithfulness to your Spouse. Faithfulness in marriage includes more than just our bodies. It also includes our eyes, mind, heart, and soul. Guard your sexuality daily and devote it entirely to your spouse. Your children will absolutely take notice.
11. Finding Beauty. Help your children find beauty in everything they see… and in everyone they meet.
12. Generosity. Teach your children to be generous with your stuff so that they will become generous with theirs.
13. Honesty/Integrity. Children who learn the value and importance ofhonesty at a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.
14. Hope. Hope is knowing and believing that things will get better and improve. It creates strength, endurance, and resolve. And in the desperately difficult times of life, it calls us to press onward.
15. Hugs and Kisses. I once heard the story of a man who told his 7-year old son that he had grown too old for kisses. I tear up every time I think of it. Know that your children are never too old to receive physical affirmation of your love for them.
16. Imagination. If we’ve learned anything over the past 20 years, it’s that life is changing faster and faster with every passing day. The world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today. And the people with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.
17. Intentionality. I believe strongly in intentional living and intentional parenting. Slow down, consider who you are, where you are going, and how to get there. And do the same for each of your children.
18. Your Lap. It’s the best place in the entire world for a book, story, or conversation. And it’s been right in front of you the whole time.
19. Lifelong Learning. A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers. It begins in the home. So read, ask questions, analyze, and expose. In other words, learn to love learning yourself.
20. Love. …but the greatest of these is love.
21. Meals Together. Meals provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else. So much so, that a family that does not eat together does not grow together.
22. Nature. Children who learn to appreciate the world around them take care of the world around them. As a parent, I am frequently asking my kids to keep their rooms inside the house neat, clean, and orderly. Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to keep their world outside neat, clean, and orderly?
23. Opportunity. Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. And contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to require much money.
24. Optimism. Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do.
25. Peace. On a worldwide scale, you may think this is out of our hands. But in relation to the people around you, this is completely within your hands… and that’s a darn good place to start.
26. Pride. Celebrate the little things in life. After all, it is the little accomplishments in life that become the big accomplishments.
27. Room to Make mistakes. Kids are kids. That’s what makes them so much fun… and so desperately in need of your patience. Give them room to experiment, explore, and make mistakes.
28. Self-Esteem. People who learn to value themselves are more likely to have self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their values and stick to them… even when no one else is.
29. Sense of Humor. Laugh with your children everyday… for your sake and theirs.
30. Spirituality. Faith elevates our view of the universe, our world, and our lives. We would be wise to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing.
31. Stability. A stable home becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. They need to know their place in the family, who they can trust, and who is going to be there for them. Don’t keep changing those things.
32. Time. The gift of time is the one gift you can never get back or take back. So think carefully about who (or what) is getting yours.
33. Undivided Attention. Maybe this imagery will be helpful: Disconnect to Connect.
34. Uniqueness. What makes us different is what makes us special.Uniqueness should not be hidden. It should be proudly displayed for all the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.
35. A Welcoming Home. To know that you can always come home is among the sweetest and most life-giving assurances in all the world. Is your home breathing life into your child?
Of course, none of these gifts are on sale at your local department store. But, I think that’s the point.

Today's water color is called "On the road home" painted in 2004.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Do they know which color they are?

The large, grassy field next to the Duck and Cherry is full of sheep these days. This morning, as Hector, the Wheaten Terrier and I strolled past on our morning walk, I smiled and thought of how happy these animals make me. The new lambs hop, leap on the soft, green grass and bleat with their tiny voices.
Most of the sheep are white, but as you look closer, they have a variety of colors. Some are warm, chocolate brown, others are grey, fading into charcoal. Some have a beige tone,as if they have been suntanning, just a little.

There is no segregation, no separate quarters for dark or light colored sheep. They don't seem to care. They eat and play alongside each other, happy for a good meal, freedom and open space to run around, and plenty of fresh air.

I wanted my children to grow up to be persons who saw hearts and not skin color. Our world has a multitude of different people. Our job is to see others for their personality, what they do, what they are - and not an outward appearance.

Luke 6:45
A good man out of the treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaketh.

When my youngest daughter was seven, we lived in Austria. It was a time when refugees from Yugoslavia fled war and suffering in their country, and crossed the border into a friendlier space. Some of these children went to school with our little girl.
One day she brought several of these children home after school. She wanted us to have lunch together, she played with them, and sincerely enjoyed their company.
Afterwards, she looked at me with her large, blue-green eyes and said, "Mamma, the other children at school say that they stink, but they don't."

Bless her heart. She saw beyond the outer, worldly standard and saw these children for who they were.

The photos today are portraits of our neighbor's sheep. As I said, they make me happy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Whatever Works For You - Writing Habits

My Broom Closet, is a place for serious business. Don't let the word "serious" put you off. I mean, that's where magic happens. It's my little space of creative wilderness, a room where joyful, organized mess comes alive. Thick, white papers turn into water colors and words get together and form stories and made-up happenings, sometimes informative articles.

I have so much fun in there. Getting ideas into working order and seeing an actual result of the ramblings of words and sceneries in my head, is a life that is good for me.

But how to go about doing it?  How does a blank piece of water color paper become a painting that will touch someone else's heart strings, or how does one go about creating a story that someone else will enjoy reading?

How to approach creative flows? The answer is, whatever way is best for you.
Some just start writing. Page one, flip the page, page two . . . and so on. Others have outlines, the plot, the whole shebang prepared and mapped out. Some plot as they go and make sure everything makes sense when they come to the second draft. A list of future scenes and notes with ideas is also a way to go. There are programs for keeping these notes also, for those who do not want to fill a whole bulletin board with post-its.

When I write, I find pictures that I feel resemble the characters, I have photographs of churches and areas, places I have been in my mind, personality traits of people I know, and I use these as I form my protagonist's personality and looks and also the people surrounding the main character. And pieces of papers written on walks with the dog, in church, on the train, as I run around the house - lots of notes. My stories often come jumping into my head as random sentences and it is often a challenge to get them in the right order. So it's a learning process, always a learning process.

You just need a system that works for you - and with you. Time writing is not always writing. It may be spent researching and organizing ideas.

Photo today: My Broom Closet at the Duck and Cherry.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mimmi and 3yo working together

"I am working on my I-pad and you are working there." Dean, 3 years old, has a clear view of how he and his "Mimmi" (grandmother) are working. I am babysitting him and trying to get some writing done, while he is busy watching playdough-making on YouTube.

In physics, a force is said to do work if, when acting on a body, there is a displacement of the point of application in the direction of the force. For example, when a ball is held above the ground and then dropped, the work done on the ball as it falls is equal to the weight of the ball (a force) multiplied by the distance to the ground (a displacement).(from wikipedia).

But, that's in physics. In everyday life, defining what is work and what is leisure, varies as much as every individual commenting on it. What one person considers hard work, is easy to someone else. A younger person may have a tight schedule occupy most of the day, while an older person may think that going to the post office is as much as he or she can muster in a day. Ergo, defining what work really is, becomes undefinable and unmeasurable.

The fact is that we all have the same given amount of hours in a day. And true, some people are busier than others. But why does it seem like some of the busiest people we know, still say yes when asked to help out, while others never have the time or energy, even though they have less on their plate.

Judging other is no use. Who am I to decide how busy someone is, or how much energy that person has to help someone else? It's up to me to balance and organize the hours I have been given.

Here are a couple of quotes about work I like:

Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

Read more at more at

Photo today: Pappa's secretary. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Early Morning's Cheerful Blues

Morning cheerfulness is not a given talent or trait to everyone. In our family it seems to have as many faces as the people living in or visiting here at the Duck and Cherry.
We have been blessed with a crowded house here lately. People get up at different hours, breakfast is eaten in spurts and groups. That' s OK. Some go to work, some to school, some are here on vacation.

My parents were early risers, breakfast was always ready when I got up. They were cheerful. In fact one of the sayings at home was, "Easy jumps and bird chatter" (in Norwegian: Lette hopp og fuglekvitter). Whatever that means. But it was said in the early morning hours, probably when they saw my sleepy face and slow-motioned body enter the kitchen.

Here are some quotes by famous people about mornings:

  • “Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.” ― Henry David Thoreau
  • “Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.” ― Lemony Snicket, The Blank Book
  • “Morning is wonderful. Its only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.” ― Glen Cook, Sweet Silver Blues
  • Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening. Mahatma Gandhi
  • An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. Henry David Thoreau
  • Each day is a little life: every waking and rising a little birth, every fresh morning a little youth, every going to rest and sleep a little death. Arthur Schopenhauer
  • Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night. William Blake
  • Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them. William Arthur Ward
  • Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise. George Washington Carver
  • Every morning I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work. Robert Orben
  • I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. Larry King
  • Good morning is a contradiction of terms. Jim Davis
  • No matter how bad things are, you can at least be happy that you woke up this morning. D. L. Hughley
Todays photo is take at out cabin, Eljarbu. Early, foggy morning in the mountains.
Source sayings:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Walking the Dog and Other Extreme Sports

Extreme sports are adventure sports that trigger action and dare-devil activities. These activities often have a high level of danger involved, in addition to much physical exertion. They involve speed, height, and specialized gear.
The definition probably originates from the 1990s. But think about it, extreme sport has probably been around as long as man himself.

Take, for example, Harry Houdini. He definitely was an extreme sport kind of man. We had a bird named Houdini a few years ago. For some reason, he always got out of the cage, even though the door was shut. He also liked to fly like the Red Baron into the flames of lit candles on the dining room table.

Stunt performers are the same - wild and crazy, loving adreanalin kicks and audacious exitement.
My son has tried quite a few different things, but is smart enough to tell his mother afterwards - he knows I would worry too much, if I knew of his adventures ahead of time.

Walking Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, a more than average happy dog, is what I would call exteme sport. Not every day. Most days I enjoy trailing behind the joyful little animal, who thinks sniffing, zig-zagging across dirt roads,  and jumping in puddles are all thrilling adventures. No, the risk is on my part these days. As I step outside the Duck and Cherry, I might as well put on my skates. The world is an ice skating rink. Maneuvering a cheerful puppy leaping across ice is crazy sport.

One thing is certain, extreme sport takes you outside your comfort zone - much higher, further, steeper, crazier than normal. But what is normal anyway.