Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paris II - Notre Dame



During our weekend in Paris, my daughter and I stayed at a little hotel close to the Notre Dame.
In the early morning, we walked around it, seeing the cathedral from different perspectives, and thinking about the people who have been coming here for hundreds of years.  People in need of God, seeking forgiveness, strength, or just for worship.
The island harboring this architectural wonder, the Île de la Cité, contained the first city here, when Paris still was small, and when the mainland on both sides of the river Seine was rural country.
The Romans named the city Lutetia, "The City of Lights".
One night we attended Vêpres, Evening Song, in Notre Dame.
It was peace, beauty, connection, and it felt wonderful after a day of walking the streets of Paris, almost like a bedside prayer before going to sleep.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Paris - first chapter



Early evening, the day we arrived.  Sitting on one of the built-in half circle benches on the famous Pont Neuf bridge.  The dome of the Invalides church and the Eiffel tower can be seen in the distance, as the Pont des Arts, the walking bridge that leads over to the Louvre. A river boat just beneath us.
This bridge is Paris' oldest, and it's name means "The new bridge".  Go figure.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Frosty Fall

Back in Norway.
I went for a walk today, with my toddler wrapped on my back.
A beautiful, sunny and crisp morning.
Still lots of colors on the trees.
Birds taking off  against a backdrop of golden leaves and deep blue sky.
On the ground, just to the side of the trail,
small frosty artworks of Nature:








Friday, October 23, 2009

13 years today

Yes, 13 years ago I became a mother.  If I close my eyes, I'm still there, in that Paris hospital, in a white room with nothing much more than the birthing bed on the floor, and a crucifix on the wall...
Notre Dame de Bon Secours is the name of the hospital, and it translates "Our Lady of good assistence/help", and I guess that would be the perfect name for a maternity ward.
My baby was perfect, a tiny bundle with chubby cheeks, and lots of black hair on her head,
without any doubt the cutest little girl in the world.
Now she is a teenager, a wonderful, kind, beautiful and intelligent young woman,  and tomorrow we're going back to the city of her birth.
Only the two of us.  My very first baby and I...


One week old...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Autumn Song

I love this song, by Finnish author Tove Jansson (yes, the very same who created the universe of "The Moomintroll" - Mummitrollet in Norwegian).
It's about autumn, about time running out, about life that should be lived, and love that should be given.
Enjoy:


The Autumn Song (Höstvisa) 

(click here to hear it, and to see the original, Swedish lyrics)
The road home was long, and I haven't met anybody,
Now the evenings are getting chilly and late.

Come and comfort me a bit, because I'm so tired,
and suddenly very alone.
I didn't notice before that the darkness is so big,
I keep thinking about everything I'm supposed to do.
There is so much I should have said and done,
and I did so very little of it.

Hurry, my love, 
hurry and love,
the days are darkening minute by minute.
Light our candles, the night is approaching,
soon the blooming summer is over.

I'm looking for something that we may have forgotten
and that you might help me to find.
A summer is passing, it is always very short,
it is the dream about what we could have won.
You'll maybe be here some day, before twilight is blue
before the fields are dry and empty.
Maybe we'll find each other, maybe we'll get to see
everything in bloom before it's to late.

Hurry, my love, 
hurry to love...

Now the windstorm is blowing, and closing the door of the summer,
it is too late to wonder and search.
Maybe I love less than I did before,
but more than you'll ever know.
We see the lighthouses along the long coast of autumn,
and we listen to the wild wanderings of the waves.
One thing is important, and that is the joy of the heart
and to be together with each other.

Hurry, my love, 
hurry to love...





Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Better!

She is much better.  Woke up with hardly any voice, but it looked as if the fever was gone.
Throughout the day she got her voice back, she has been studying for school, and she wants to go there tomorrow.
She's not, though.  Better be on the safe side, have her rest another day.


I really hope the two of us will be able to go on our weekend trip.  I haven't travelled with her alone since she was a toddler (and an only child), except for two one day-trips, when we went to see a show ("Annie") in Oslo, five years ago, and "Les Misérables"  in Lillestrøm, almost three years ago.
I've thought of it for so long, that we should do something like this, but then, there was never the right time, and it's only now that I can picture myself away from the toddler for several days.
(Not looking forward to that part, though...)

Well, it seems like the worst is over when it comes to my daughter's flu or what it is, so now I'm more concerned about me...  But, a good friend told
me that I'm not going to be sick, so I guess I'll choose to believe her.
My husband is taking off again for a couple of days, so now, after a hot cup of tea with honey, I'm going to try and catch a good night's sleep.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sick!

With only four days left before our Paris-trip, my daughter is sick.  Some virus, I guess, has made her feverish, freezing, aching all over.
She has been in bed all day, except for ten minutes, when she tried sitting at the table to eat some.
I have never ever seen her this sick.
This is the child who only has a sick day from preschool/school every  1 1/2 years or so, and when that happens, even if she isn't feeling well in the morning,  she is healthy again in the afternoon, getting bored of staying in bed...
This is different.  
I'm worried about her.
And yes, we're both worried about Paris...
Prayers appreciated.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bulbs and Hope



Yesterday, after lunch, Alma and I went to a nursery (Norwegian: Garteri) to buy a scrub for the front of the house, some turf and lots of bulbs.  Tulips and daffodils.  Alma got to choose the colors, and she was a big helper when it was time for putting them in the ground.  She asked lots of questions.  Why do we have to put them in the earth?  Why do they have to have the pointed side up?
Well, I explained the best I could, and then I realized there is a wonderful image here:

A hard, not very handsome, little bulb is put in a hole in the ground.
It is dark, cold, and very soon even the soft earth will be hard and impossible to move.
Then everything is covered in snow, hidden, forgotten.
Months and months will pass, and one day,
as the sun gets warmer,
the snow starts to melt.
And, before long there will be a patch of bare earth,
and then,
if we look carefully,
a tiny green optimist can be seen,
sprouting out of the dark,
stretching against the spring sun and warmth,
and suddenly we have a beautiful flower!




Hm, I realize this sounds a lot like the lyrics for "The Rose", so, fine, I guess I wasn't the first one to come up with that picture,
but still,

this bulb thing can really mirror a soul,
all dark and closed up,
wanting to disappear...
After hidig away, unreachable, cold and hard,
there is suddenly a tiny speck of green hope, -
and behold,
something new,
and amazingly beautiful grows out of it.


We'll see...

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Doll's House





A week ago I went to see a play:  A Doll's House, (Et Dukkehjem) by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.
It was written in 1879, and I believe it is his most famous, still being played regularly, all over the world.
It has been part of the  Norwegian (usually middle) school curriculum for generations.
The plot is this:  Nora Helmer is married to Torvald Helmer, and they have three children.  Nora seems happy and carefree as a little doll in the doll's house, but we soon learn that appearences can be deceiving.  She decides to leave her family, simply because she can't do otherwise.

Ibsen attacks the 19th century's marriage norms, where wives were supposed to be sweet, little things, without opinions or even thoughts.
He depicts the Helmer's home as a doll's house, where Nora is Torvald's doll, and the children are hers.
There has never been any real  contact between the spouses, and the way he his calling her "bird", "squirrel" etc. enforces that picture.  He is never really listening to her!

What Nora does in the end of the play, is outrageous, seen from the time the play was written.   She is acting in a way that is unheard, and by leaving, she also sacrifices every right to her own children, as it was by law at that time...

I don't see this as an endorsement for divorce, but rather a statement about the importance of a human being's right to be respected and the need for us all to have a real connection in our life.




The version I saw last week was by Riksteatret, which is a state owned theater company who tours Norway.  They have a handful of plays every season, and they travel to many small towns (like my own) and even to the countryside, where there is no institutional theater.  The plays are set up in movie theaters or community halls.  Every year there is a new cast of professional Norwegian actors joining the company.

They were amazing!  The scenography was timeless, but could really have been in  2009,  and they had also done minor adjustments, for instance when there was talk about money.

The actress Ulrikke Hansen Døvigen, as Nora, made us believe in the caracter.  We really understand her, and feel extremely sorry for her.
Torvald Helmer is played by Glenn André Kaada, Dr Rank by Trond Høvig, Mr. Krogstad by Håkon Ramstad, Nora's friend Kristine by Turid Gunnes, and the au pair Maria by Sara Saban.
See here (Norwegian) for the company's own website.

Here is a small transcript, from the play's final scene.  It is late at night Christmas Day, and Nora has announced to her husband that she is leaving.

Nora: I must try and get some sense, Torvald.


Helmer: To desert your home, your husband and your children!  And you don't consider what people will say!


Nora: I cannot consider that at all.  I only know that it is necessary for me.


Helmer: It's shocking.  This is how you would neglect your most sacred duties.


Nora: What do you consider my most sacred duties?


Helmer: Do I need to tell you that?  Are they not your duties to your husband and your children?


Nora: I have other duties just as sacred.


Helmer: That you have not.  What duties could those be?


Nora: Duties to myself.
(...)
Helmer: You are ill, Nora; you are delirious; I almost think you are out of your mind.


Nora: I have never felt my mind so clear and certain as tonight.


Helmer: And is it with a clear and certain mind that you forsake your husband and your children?


Nora: Yes, it is.
(...)
Nora: Goodbye, Torvald.  I won't see the little ones.  I know they are in better hands than mine.  As I am now, I can be of no use to them.


Helmer: But some day, Nora, some day?


Nora: How can I tell?  I have no idea what is going to become of me.
(...)
Helmer: (sinks down on a chair at the door and buries his face in his hands)  Nora!  Nora! (Looks around and rises.) Empty.  She is gone.
(...)
(The sound of a door shutting is heard from below.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Paris and Rome

In less than two weeks I'm off to Paris, for a long weekend with my daughter who turns 13 the day before or trip,
and only three weeks from today, I'm going to Rome, alone, for another long weekend.
Two trips like this, that close together, why?  Well, because theese were the weekends it could happen, that's why.



The first trip is a mother-daughter getaway.  We're going back to my daughter's roots, to the place she was born, to the city I spent a year alone, and the first four and a half  years of my marriage.  I became a mother here.  
I know this city.
Discovered it when I was 17 years old,and fell totally in love.
Then, after visiting during various inter-rail trips, I went to live there, and for 5 1/2 years, I experienced the every-day life of Paris.  But, my intitial crush didn't fade completely, and now I feel a mixture of "going back home", and the exciting thrill of visiting the City of Lights.




The next trip is something else.  It's both a retreat and an adventure.
I've never been in Rome, but I feel that I know it, from my art history studies, and I can't wait to see the different sights, feel the history on every corner.
I am, however, not going to see it all.  I know that.  Four days away from home, but only two and a half days there, and I don't want this to be an exhausting run to do as much as possible.
Because of that I'm currently reading up on Rome, so that I can carefully choose a few places where I will actually go inside.
The rest of the time, I plan to wander the streets, sit down for long lunches, dinners, and numerous coffees.  I'll write, read, do photography, and think.
I hope to find some inspiration!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Reading Block


Yes, I think I've experienced something like that.
I've been reading the same book now, for weeks and weeks, can't seem to really get going,
and it has nothing to do with the book not being interesting, absolutely not, because it is a great novel. I'm talking about
"The Angel's Game"
by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. He is a rather young writer, Spanish, from Barcelona, and his home city is extremely present in the book. I'm reading the Norwegian translation, and I realize while I'm writing this, that I haven't been reading a book written in my mother tongue for a long, long time.
If you haven't read his former novel, "The Shadow of the Wind", you should. The one I'm reading now is written as the second book in a triology. It is not exactly a sequel, but the author has a reason for writing it after the other one.
It is in many ways what we would call meta-literature. A book about books, just like the other novel. It is a story about the art of writing, about finding your way through the wilderness of possible words out there, about becoming a writer.
I'm halfway through it now, and I want to read, I really do.
I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chocolat

This time I'm not talking about the movie, but the real stuff.  I just chose to write it in French.
During my Trondheim stay, I got to visit the chocolate factory there, Nidar Sjokoladefabrikk.
It is the largest distributor of sweets, and most Norwegians has, at one time or another (or all the time), a strong relationship to at least one of their products.  It was a great experience, to wander about in the factory, with my two oldest kids, watching conveyor belts and fancy machines, learning about the production, and, of course tasting delicious, freshly made chocolate and candy.  In fact, we got to taste as much as we liked.  There were no limits.

Many of us just love their invention "Smash".  It is salty corn cones, covered with sweet milk chocolate.


Smash! Commercial "Toller", 2008

And Stratos, of course, their famous airy chocolate bar:




Stratos commercial "Can't touch this" 2009



And I shouldn't forget Smørbukk, (has it name from a Norwegian fairy tale), soft delicous toffee...




Well, that was my contribution to the Norwegian candy marketing!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Up



Another movie!
Just spent a week in Trondheim, at my mother's. One day, while the toddler napped, we went to the cinema with the three other kids: Up, the 3D-version.

When my cinematic experiences are rather scarce, due to motherhood and busy life, it is such a pleasure when the movies I get to see are that good!

Pixar's youngest child is nothing less than great.
An animated movie that moves me to tears and makes me laugh my eyes out.
It is not as fast-paced as most in that genre,
there are even long sequences with little to no talk at all, and where the action is within the caracters, in their feelings, their hopes, their sorrows...
Add to this some beautiful music, a couple of really funny animals (you want that, after all! ),
and a story that is so different, so daring, in many ways, and you've got yourself a wonderful film.

A film that is about Life, Death and Love,
the ultimate themes of our human existence!