Saturday, February 26, 2011

France

Right now, we're packing our bags, and tomorrow, after loading the mini-van, we take off for France.  My husband will be working at two different universities, and we tag along, for a month.  First stretch is short, less than two hours to Oslo, where we board the huge ferryboat which will take us to Kiel, Germany.  We'll be aboard for almost 24 hours, it's almost like a mini-cruise.  Then we'll drive down through Germany, spending one night somewhere down the road,  before going west into France.
There is  much to plan and pack,  especially considering that we have full winter here, and we're going much further south, where there is no snow, much warmer and thus need for a totally different wardrobe.  Then there is also:  The kids' school books, some toys, books to read at night, audio books for the car ride, snacks and packed lunches for the first day, and lots more...  So, I really have to get back to my packing.  Will stay in touch.
And yes, we do have a house sitter, a nice person who will take good care of Happy and the house.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Parenting a 14-year-old.


I'm continuing the series of blog posts describing my different roles in life.  This is - maybe - the hardest one of them all, being the mother of a 14-year-old girl.  Hard, because here I really feel time is running out.  We have so few years left with her being still a child, so few years where I can continue the parenting work, before she takes off with her own wings...
Keywords to the parenting are talking, listening and more listening.  Hugs, arguing, yelling (oh yes, that happens too...), laughing, sharing, more listening and more talking, explaining, answering really tough questions, supporting, suggesting, going to the cinema, to plays, ballet shows or concerts, going for walks, on foot or on cross-country skis, taking mom/daughter-trips, and just hanging out together.  I'm both amazed, proud, worried and exasperated, and I guess this comes with the job.
She made me a mother 14 years ago, and today, midway between child and woman, she challenges me a lot, on many levels, and she still makes me a mother -  on every new stage we reach.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Picture of the day: The Lacemaker

Another Vermeer-painting: The Lacemaker, from around 1670. 
As I've written before, I'm on an ongoing quest: To see all available Vermeer paintings.  I saw this one in the Louvre, Paris, a week ago.  It's very sober, without any other background than the grey wall, but it's very Vermeer-like indeed, with the typical yellows and blues. 
If you approach the little painting, you can actually see every single thread between the woman's fingers, and the texture of the pillow is amazing.  But, more than anything, this is a picture of concentration.  The woman is completely absorbed in her task, nothing distracts her.  
As usual, when I get to see a Vermeer IRL, I just stand there, staring at it for the longest while, climbing into it, mentally, until I feel the pressure to let other people see the painting as well, and reluctantly step aside.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Picture of the day: Goodbyes in the Snow

This picture was taken by my husband yesterday, as we were heading out with my mother and niece to the train. I'm holding our youngest.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Parenting an 11-year-old.



Another of my roles is this: Being the mother of an 11-year-old boy.  When it comes to parenting this young man, appropriate keywords would be: supporting, comforting, encouraging, helping with school work and difficult piano music, answering questions who every day become more and more complex, having to accept that I don't have all the answers anymore, negotiation, arguing about rules and benefits, crying, laughing, discussions, hugs, book reading, games, cross country skiing, cinema outings and driving to to the E.R. because of accidents due to a bit too daring behavior, such as tree climbing, jumping etc...  It's challenging, and it's scary, because I can see time is running out when it comes to the task of parenting.  It's not over for years yet, of course, but we're approaching the teen years now, and little by little he'll be stretching out towards independence.  I can still see the baby boy inside the tall "tween" frame, and it makes me cry to think about how fast years go by...  But, all I can do, is to try my best, and to build his self-esteem with love, knowledge and imagination, to help him reach his stars.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Thinker

I visited the Rodin Museum today, as it is one of my favorite places in Paris, and I might incorporate it into my guided tours of Paris which I'm starting up this spring.
As this post is written from my hotel bed, and my eyes are threatening to close before I'm done writing, I'll make this very short.  This statue, The Thinker (Le Penseur) by Auguste Rodin, is made in several versions, both in bronze and in marble, but the orignal one, the first bronze cast, from 1902,  sits in the garden of the Rodin Museum.  It's so real, the anatomy just perfectly rendered, it's a statue of a strong, muscular man, but still, it's a very allegoric work of art to me.  It's about the human struggle, about our inner world of thoughts, problems, challenges,  about our mind and it's need for serenity and comprehension.  I see myself in this statue, me and my mind and its non-stop thinking,  instead of just  relaxing and letting go.  I would love to see a second statue here, muscles relaxed, showing the peace that only descends upon us when the thinking stops.
Don't get me wrong. Thinking is of course not all bad.  It's also philosophy, asking questions and learning.  And, the thing is, I like this statue.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Paris Night with Panthéon View

Photo:http://www.boreally.org/
I'm in Paris,
and I'm all alone  
My agenda is not at all precise, but you could say that it's part research, part planning, and part retreat. Thoughts are spinning through my mind right now, but I need sleep after being up since 4AM. From my window I can see the top of the Pantheon.  It gives me the creeps.  I have no idea why, but it always has. This building has some kind of scaring effect on me.  I've had nightmares about it, and I can't stand seeing it in "street view" mode on maps.google.com.  But, right now, I can see it from my hotel room window.  Well, not anymore, actually, because I've pulled the heavy curtains so they cover up the view. Sleep is very much needed at this moment, so I'll call it a day, and sorry if this became an erratic and senseless post.  These are my words tonight, here I am, all alone in Paris, rambling on about Panthéon and nightmares. Good night.

Photo:http://www.france-travel-photos.com



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Hedgehog (Movie Review)


Wow,  What a movie.  I saw Le Hérisson yesterday, and I know that this is one of these cinema experiences which will stay with me.  Maybe forever.  Why?  Not because of an extraordinary plot or beautiful filming, although this is good work, but simply because the story touched me.  
The movie is directed by Mona Achache, and it's inspired by the novel named "L'Elegance du hérisson" (The hedgehog's elegance)  by Muriel Barbery.  


We're in Paris, in an upper-class appartment building, and we get to meet Renée, the concierge, who introduces herself as ugly, chubby and not very much liked by others.  She is living up to the idea rich people have of women like her, and she comes across as non-educated and a little bit stupid, but the fact is, she is exactly the opposite.  Renée loves great literature, she loves good movies and she loves the Japanese culture.  
Another character, Paloma, a young girl living upstairs in one of the luxury appartments, has decided to kill herself the day she turns 12, because she doesn't want to end up like her parents, like goldfish in a bowl...
Then there is Kakuro, the Japanese man who moves in...


 It's a movie that feels very real.  I have lived in a building like this in Paris, I recognize all the small hints and signs  and boundaries which are put up to confine people.  The actors don't seem like they're acting, they're real, and you become very fond of these characters.


It's a story about death and about life, about friendship and love, about the power of arts, especially literature and cinema.
This movie will become a part of my dvd library very, very soon.






For information about cast etc, click here.

Norwegian poster