Saturday, July 31, 2010

Inception




I've seen a brand new movie!  (Wow!) Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan. An American movie, seen in my local small town movie theater, only two weeks after the release.  For me, that is unusual indeed.
Who hasn't once thought about being able to capture dreams?  I have thought about it a lot since I was a child, and the movie Inception explores this fantasy.  Cobb (Leonardo di Caprio) works with "extraction", which is the technique of pulling information out of people's dreams and subconsciousness, but now he is given a much harder task: "inception", the implantation of an idea in a target person's brain.
This is not a movie that you can watch halfheartedly.  You have to be on your toes constantly, to keep track of the different levels of consciousness and dreams. I've read somewhere that Di Caprio had a hard time understanding the script while first reading it, and I can totally see why.  Somebody described it as maybe the most intelligent action movie ever, and your brain really gets to work while you watch.  
Inception is truly intriguing and fascinating, and there is a good deal of suspense to keep you far from falling asleep.
A good theater experience!



Beside Leonardo DiCaprio, the list of actors include among others Michael Caine, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ken Watanabe.
Click here for more information from IMDB,
and if you want a teaser, just watch this little trailer:





Friday, July 30, 2010

10 Days in Italy: Our Farm



After those 24 hours alone in Florence, it was time to meet my workshop group, so after breakfast, I hauled my suitcase and camera gear over to the Santa Maria Novella train station, where I jumped on the bus for the airport.  Fiumicino airport is tiny.  The terminal is one single building, where everything is within a few steps.  I looked around a little, to see if I could spot some Americans, but then chose to head outside, to look for our tour bus, which should be parked out by the taxi lines.   It was there, the only bus in sight, and since I was early, surprisingly, the driver was all one there, just waiting for us.  I chatted with him for a little while before loading my luggage and going for a stroll around the terminal.
Found a little book store, and bought an Italian magazine and some water for the trip.  Then, after a little while, I headed back to the bus, and now there was a little crowd starting to form out there.  There were introductions to be done, and soon after we were off, on the road to our Tuscan adventure!
My workshop group was just great!  We were 18 in all, and there was a good energy going on here.  Except for our two Italians, the driver and one of the photographers/teachers, I was the only non-American, but I felt totally included and I had a really good time the whole week.
I can fully and wholeheartedly recommend a workshop with Drake Busath and his team!

This first day we went from Florence to the farm where we were going to stay for a week:  Pieve A Salti, close to the little town of Buonconvento, in the Siena area.
This used to be the Bischop of Siena's Summer residence, and the main buildings date back to the 13th century.
It's beautifully situated within the gentle, hilly Tuscan landscape, between fields and woods, and there were sheep, horses, cows and cats around us.  Our classroom time was in a small stone cottage on the farm, and we enjoyed our morning cappuccinos in the cosy breakfast room.  I already miss it!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Girl in Hyacinth Blue

I've had this novel for years.  It has been sitting on my bookshelf, and I've picked it up several times, only to put it back again.  Why?  I don't know.  I just always chose to read another one instead.
Well, at last it was her turn, the Girl in Hyacinth Blue.  
The book is written by American author Susan Vreeland.  It is about a painting, supposedly by the Dutch artist Vermeer.  
In the first chapter we are close to our own time, probably late 20th century.  A math teacher at a boys' college shows his colleague a painting that he claims to be a Vermeer.
The rest of the novel is a time travel, where we follow the painting, going back  throughout the centuries.  
It is a story about Art, about Holland, and about relationships between human beings.  We get to know Amsterdam during the second world war, we touch the Holocaust, there is knowledge about Holland, and it's geography, about it's people, about it's floods...
And, in the middle of all these stories, the different people we get to meet, there is the painting of a girl, gazing out a window.
I know this painting is part of Vreeland's fiction, but I still long to see it!  The authenticity of the painting is debated in the novel, but it has many of the typical attributes of a Vermeer.
Johannes Vermeer is one of my favorite artists, and I have seen many of his paintings IRL.  I even twice took a detour from my logical travel route, just to see one of his paintings....  But, this belongs to another blog post, sorry for rambling.  This is about Susan Vreeland's book, and I'm now so glad I finally got around to it!  I'll probable read it again one day.  It's not very big, but even being a rather short novel, it is filled to the rim of people, places and stories.  And, not to forget all the words of wisdom concerning human beings and their relations to each other.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Days

Boat trip in Zoo/Amusement park

It's Summer in Norway.  I've been traveling a bit, being totally off-line (not even my mobile phone was working) visiting my in-laws, spending two days in Norway's biggest zoo/amusement park,  given tons of plants from my father-in-law for my yard, getting 20+ mosquito-bites, and some other insect bite with a growing red circle surrounding it.  Don't like that last one, am probably going to have somebody to look at it.
I have had some time to read, so there will be a book review, or maybe two, and there are pictures and some deep thoughts coming up.  I just need some extended quiet time to get around to it.

Boat trip in Kiddie Pool



But, I wanted to post right now, since I just received another award:  The Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks a lot to Maria Gracia at Fly High! and Mohamed Mughal at Thoughts and Ponderings.  These are blogs worth while reading, and reading again!


I pass this award on to the following blogs: (I gave the Sunshine Award to several of these as well.)

I could pass it on to many more, but I choose to stop here.  






Wishing you all a beautiful Summer, with sun, rain and lots of ripe strawberries!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

10 Days in Italy: The Uffizi

I started writing about my Tuscany adventure, and here comes next chapter.
When I had finished my delicious lunch at Golden View Open Bar  , I headed out in the rain again, but quickly found shelter under the overpass on the bridge Ponte Vecchio.  From there, you can walk almost all the way to the Uffizi Gallery without being rained on.
I had called in a reservation for 3PM, so I just walked past the extremely long line of people waiting to get in.  (The estimated waiting time was set to 2 hours!).  
I sprinted up the broad staircase to the second floor, where the main collections are situated.  The gallery is shaped like a long, rectangular horse shoe, with a continuos hallway leading you to all the different rooms.
I won't tire you with everything, obviously, but, I did spend 4 hours in the Gallery, which for me is an extremely long time.  I usually get tired much before that.  Tired in my legs, of course, but mainly, tired in my head.  It's as if my brain's hard disc can't cope with too many impressions.
This time, though, I just kept going.  Somewhere in the middle, I had an iced tea on the roof terrace, with gorgeous views of the Palazzo Vecchio and the cathedral.  And, yes, it had finally stopped raining, so I even enjoyed some sun up there.
I'll show you only a few paintings.  


First:  Simone Martini's Annunciation from 1333.
It's an altar piece, showing the Virgin Mary receiving the angel, which comes to tell her that she will be the mother of Christ.  She is, which is very common, depicted with an opened book in her hand, as if she was just reading, alone in her room, and really had no clue about what was going to happen.  I love the way she looks apprehensive, turning slightly away from the angel, with an expression that says "No, I don't want to go through all this!  Not me, please!"
From the angels mouth, there are letters, sticking out in a relief, almost cartoon-like, forming the words: "Ave Gratia Plena Dominus Tecum" ("Greetings, most favoured one.  The Lord is with thee!"





I love this picture, by the monk Fra Filippo Lippi.  "Madonna with child and two angels" is painted around 1465, an early Renaissance picture.  The theme is very common, of course, but the friar has painted it very different from anything seen before!
The angel in the foreground has an unusual smile, almost mischievous, or maybe proud, as he get to lift up baby Jesus to his mother.  The baby looks so natural, like a nine-month-old with separation anxiety.
I stood there forever, in the gallery, gazing at this painting.  It's amazing.

(And, I don't pay too much attention to the stories surrounding the painter, who apparently left his order, to marry the woman he loved, a nun, who is said to be the model for this Madonna...  Supposedly a huge scandal in Florence!)

I could go on forever, but, I won't.  Just want to show you what is known as Botticelli's earliest painting: Fortitude.


It was his very first commission, and the picture was one of seven, picturing different Christian and wordly values.  They were hung on the walls of the Commercial Court House in Florence, and with this painting, Botticelli became famous. "Fortitude" represents the qualities inner strength, resilience and courage.
In the Uffizi Gallery, this painting is found in the last room you see before  you enter the big Botticelli room, with The Birth of Venus , Spring and many other highlights. Then, in the next room, there is Leonardo's Annunciation...  
Click on the links to see these pictures as well, and maybe I'll get back to posting from the Uffizi Gallery one of these days.  It's after all one of my favorite places in the world!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Picture of the day: Sleeping baby


I took this picture in my studio several years ago.  Now I've entered it in an online contest at Photobuzz.com
If you like the picture, please go to http://digitalphotobuzz.com/your-best-family-portrait-photo
When you see my picture, you can click on it where it says "vote".
Thanks a lot!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth!



I have lived over three years in the US, and I'll always have "a thing" for that country.  My first son is born there, I have wonderful friends there, and I have tons of reasons why I should go and live there.
Last year, when we lived there again for 6 months, my two eldest  children went to American public schools, and they would start every single day with holding their hand over their heart, while saying these words:


I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God,
indivisible, 
with liberty and justice for all.


I think it is beautiful.  And, today, when I attended an American church service here in my local church, I had a hard time holding back my tears.  There were Americans there, descendants of emigrants who, with broken hearts, left their families and friends, in hope of a better future.  I heard stories of grandparents who never stopped talking about Norway, but never ever talked about the actual leaving...  That was just too painful.  Today, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are Americans, but they carry with them a piece of another country, as do most Americans.  This melancholy is maybe what makes USA special.




Happy Fourth of July, to all my American readers!


Saturday, July 3, 2010

10 Days in Italy: Florence by Rain


I just went on a photography workshop,  my first week-long  workshop in over three years.  I just can't leave that long when my children are tiny, that's why I've waited so long.  Now, my youngest is 2 1/2, and he can deal with me being away for a while.  (And so can I, even if it's hard...)

First, I flew from Oslo (Norway) to Zürich (Switzerland), where I spent the night in a hotel close to the airport.  Early next morning, I flew to  Florence, arrived around 8:30 AM.

What a wonderful feeling to be back in that city.  I fell in love with Florence from a distance, without ever being there, and when I first came there, in 2002, my feelings grew even stronger.  It's not a big city, but it's so full of beautiful art and architecture.  It was here that the Renaissance started, and Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Donatello among others have lived here and walked the same cobbled streets that I walked during that Saturday. 
History is everywhere you turn.

But, I hadn't been here during Summer before, and yes, there was a slight change from the two previous visits:  People.  Thousands of tourists everywhere, and I learned that next time I visit Florence, it will be in the Fall, or early Spring.

However, it started raining.  Not a gentle summer rain, but a whipping, strong, soaking rain, that had most people run and hide out in their hotels.  That wasn't too bad, actually, to have the streets more to myself, and armed in my oversized rain poncho, I continued to walk, take pictures, and when the wetness started to seep down my neck, and my jeans were soaked up to my thighs, I found shelter in the most perfect restaurant: Golden view Open bar.
Kind of touristy, obviously, with that name, but, the thing is, most tourists, at least those  from the North of Europe, and those from US, don't sit down for big lunches, so I had the most wonderful table, with huge windows on two sides, where I almost could touch the river Arno and the famous bridge Ponte Vecchio.

I sat for several hours, enjoying a tasty fish soup, a pasta dish and a yummy peach dessert.  I read about Florence, and I wrote in my notebook.


Then, I had to venture out in the rain again, because of my appointment at the Uffizis.  But that is obviously another post.  Coming up!  :-)

Ponte Vecchio


The same bridge, taken from my window at the restaurant!


My view across the river.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Medieval Festival II

Days have been busy since I came back from Italy.  


I really want to write more about my workshop experience, and also my solitary stay in Florence.  But, for now, just a few more pictures from the Medieval Festival in San Gimigniano: