Monday, November 30, 2009

The Winner Takes it All...

I saw the Norwegian version of the success musical Mamma Mia in Oslo this weekend.  My oldest daughter and I.  It has been running since this spring, and we caught it in the very last few weeks.  We had great seats, and I think that is a must when you attend a live show.  Seats cost more less the same, no matter where they are, and even if you can save a little on less-than-perfect seating, I would never do that.  And, with a good overall view of the stage and close enough to see facial expressions, we could lean back and just enjoy.
Well-known songs, good singing, dancing and acting performances all mixed with a cute story makes for great entertainment.

I was worried that a Norwegian translation of ABBA's songs would sound strange and awkward, but it didn't.  Ingrid Bjørnov and Linn Skåber did the translation . Both song lyrics and dialogs were well written, and they even used different Norwegian dialects.  Bill's caracter, named Arne Svart, played by Paul Ottar Haga, was extremely funny, and it hit right home with his nordtrøndersk  dialect. (From the area north of Trondheim,) Both he and the rest of the cast did a great job. The two lead roles are played by Heidi Gjermundsen Broch (Donna) and Mari Lerberg Fossum (Sofie)

And, silly as it sounds, I end up crying my eyes out...
First when the mother sings about her daughter growing up too fast,
and then, even worse, when she moves on to "The winner takes it all"...
In the end it was no use trying to stop the flood of tears, and I was happy for the dark and for the crowd of total strangers around me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Alma!

My youngest daughter turned six some weeks ago, and today she finally got her party.  Let's see, how many kids did we have here?...  Have to think, and count, but I suppose I'm right if I say 17 kids, that is ours included, and throw in some parents as well, and you have a pretty good size party.
The table was set, with a pony theme all over, from napkins to plates, cups and straws.  The homemade pinata hung from the ceiling, awaiting it's destruction, our 10-year-old had prepared a puppet show, and our 13-year-old had several games planned.  It sure is great to have a large family, with older siblings who help out, and even think it's lots of fun!
A few hours later, when gifts were opened, games played and all the little guests were picked up by their parents, our living room looked like a disaster zone, with shredded paper, pieces of cake, frosting and an over-tired birthday girl on the floor...
But, when the little princess stopped crying, after not wanting to get her teeth brushed, she admitted that her party was wonderful, and that she looked forward to play with her new toys tomorrow.

Right now all four kids are in their beds, and as for me and my husband, we are going to sink down on the couch, have some late dinner (no, we didn't have time to eat while the others did, big surprise!) and put our feet up.
We made it!

 The birthday girl!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Maybe you're still here...

Today it is exactly three years since my father died.  Suddenly, without any warning, with no goodbyes.  I still can't accept it.
I dag er det tre år siden Far døde.  Har ikke godtatt det ennå.  Føles fortsatt helt umulig.

"To Where You Are"
by Richard Marx and Linda Thompson

Who can say for certain
Maybe you're still here
I feel you all around me
Your memory, so clear

Deep in the stillness
I can hear you speak
You're still an inspiration
Can it be (?)
That you are mine
Forever love
And you are watching over me from up above

Fly me up to where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile to know you're there
A breath away not far
To where you are

Are you gently sleeping
Here inside my dream
And isn't faith believing
All power can't be seen

As my heart holds you
Just one beat away
I cherish all you gave me everyday
'Cause you are my
Forever love
Watching me from up above

And I believe
That angels breathe
And that love will live on and never leave

Fly me up
To where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile
To know you're there
A breath away not far
To where you are

I know you're there
A breath away not far
To where you are

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Advent Calendar preparations

So, in a few days Advent is here.  I've started collecting small items for our Advent Calendar, which every year is put on the kitchen wall.
We have four children, but I don't make 96 packages, absolutely not.
There is one little gift for each day, and the children simply take turns in opening them.  
After all, the whole point with this calendar is the anticipation of Christmas, the waiting and the counting of days.
And, if I'm not completely wrong, there is going to be a few gifts to open in a month or so...
They do get each their (one dollar-) chocolate calendar in their rooms, with 24 small doors to open, and with a tiny  piece of chocolate behind each door,
but the main Advent Calendar, the one to be looked upon during these weeks, while they count down the days to Christmas, is a shared one.  I'm currently trying to find 6 small items for each child, items which goes with their age and interest.  From a teenage girl to a toddler boy, there is some creative thinking to be done!
Picture will follow, this weekend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Flu and multitasking

It has been a week now since I went down.  High fever, feeling awful, the works.  But, enough now. Even if I still cough and really don't feel that great, I need to get things done. After a week of single motherhood while my husband was in the US, and a week of being sick, my desk is full.  Yesterday, while Jonatan was sleeping, I got some done, but much is still untouched.
So, this morning, while the house is empty (husband and toddler out & about running errands), I've been photo editing, and now I'll sign and pack finished prints for pickup.  Bills have to be written and paid.
I'm starting to feel the strain of my multiple hats, to speak metaphorically.  To be the mother of four, and to work without having one single day of being able to focus completely on my work, that is exhausting, so we are, albeit half-heartedly,  looking into part-time daycare for our toddler next year.  Only a couple of days a week, and only if we get a spot at the place we've chosen...
Yes, it doesn't help that  this little man's got me wrapped around his tiny, sticky finger!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A mother's worst nightmare

From St. Peter's in Rome I show you Michelangelo's Pietà.  A marble sculpture of the Virgin Mary, with her dead son in her arms.  Pietà means pity.  In English this theme in art is called lamentationin Norwegian begråtelse .  
It contains all the sorrow and hopelessness of a mother who just lost her child.
It is an amazing work of art, both so real and yet so heavenly surreal.
You think it almost  impossible that it is cold and hard stone you're looking at.

In about a month we will be celebrating this man's birth.  The tiny infant, born in a stable, cradled by his mother,while poor shepherds came to visit, and angels song about peace on earth...
As a mother, I can relate to Mary's shock and grief when she realized what was going to happen to her son, to her baby.  And, I don't even try to imagine the feelings she went through when she held her dead child, now a grow man, in her arms.
He was called The Son of Man, and his mother was a ordinary woman, with the same hopes and dreams belonging to all human parents across the world and across time.  
What a sacrifice.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jonatan's day. By Mobile Phone.

Still boringly sick...  Can't seem to find the energy to write or do any kind of work, so here comes some pictures of my youngest, seen through the lens of my mobile phone camera, and posted from my bed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fall Shadows

In bed with the flu.  Difficult to get anything done.  Wanted to show you some shadow pictures I took this fall.  They are, so to speak, shadows by me and of me - and my family.
I wrote this poem to go with the pictures:

Late, late  November days
with shadows ever longer
Colors fading into greys
but fighting even stronger
A stubborn, last symphonic bliss
to brighten thankful souls
who really see what we will miss
when Cold and Darkness reach their goals

Reading in French

Yes, for the first time in several years, I'm trying to read a French novel.  I've chosen "La Prochaine Fois" (The Next Time) by Marc Levy.  This author has lived seven years in San Francisco, and in all his books (at least the ones I've read) some of the plot takes place in the US.  I've allready read "Et si c'était vrai?", "Où es-tu?" and "7 yours pour une éternité".  
He often weaves stories with elements from the supernatural, and in this one, there is supposedly a friendship who outlasts centuries...  I've just started, so we'll see.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Reading Zafón is intriguing. I don't get all if it, and sometimes I keep going back to try and find some loose threads. I didn't find all of them, but still, I liked the book. A real story, a universe of it's own.

Now, I just finished reading "Jenny", by Norwegian author Sigrid Undset. This was her breakthrough novel, and it was first published in 1911. Then, the novel was scandalous in many ways, but is now among the classics of Norwegian literature.
It is about Jenny, a woman in her late twenties. Living for her art, painting, she leaves her day job and goes to Italy.
Throughout the story, she will experience the agony of not being able to love the way she desperately wants to, and she ends up having a child, but rejecting it's father.
It is about the nature of love and friendship, and it is about being an artist.
I read the book many years ago, before marriage and children, and I have to say, I read it in a totally different way now.

Sigrid Undset

Botticelli, the Sistine Chapel and the power of Art

Art can touch your soul, it can talk to you without words, and even make you cry.

While in Rome, I saw many, many wonders of art, and some stay with me more than others.
This one is called "Scenes from the life of Moses", by one of my favorite painters: Botticelli.  He came from Florence to Rome, commissioned by the Pope to paint several frescoes on the wall of the Sistine Chapel.  He worked for less than a year on these paintings, between 1481 and 1482, about 27 years before Michelangelo started on the repainting of the ceiling.

While I was standing there, in the Sistine Chapel, which was unusually quiet, almost empty because I was there so early in the morning, I suddenly felt I felt overwhelmed by the art, the story, the history within these walls.
I was thinking of all those centuries of visitors who have stood under this vaulted ceiling,
it was as if there was a whisper all around me.
I couldn't stop staring at the paintings, and I kept coming back to this particular one.
It is on the south wall, to the right when you come into the chapel.  Botticelli has painted different scenes from Moses' life in one single frame.
The central part is were Moses helps Jethro's daughters getting water for their sheep.  One of the daughters, supposedly Zipporah, is the figure that struck me the most.
A typical Botticelli woman, with a melancholic grace that touched something within me.  It was almost like her face expressed some of my own unspoken and maybe even unthought words, it felt as if this 500 year-old painting wanted to tell me something, and while I stood there, on top of those few stairs in the west end of the chapel, while the room slowly filled with more and more people,  I could feel tears trickling down my cheeks.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

To travel

(English translation below)
"Det er jo det som er det vidunderlige med å komme ut - 
all påvirkning av de mennesker som man tilfeldigvis lever sammen med hjemme, 
den oppheves. 
Man må se med sine egne øyne, 
og tenke for seg selv. 
Og man skjønner, det avhenger aldeles av en selv hva man får ut av reisen 
- hva man evner å se og oppfatte, og hvordan man steller seg, 
og hvilke mennesker man velger å la seg påvirke av. 
Og man skjønner, det avhenger bare av en selv hva man får ut av hele livet. 
Ja naturligvis, litt av omstendighetene, som De sa før. 
Men man finner ut hvordan man efter sin egen natur lettest vinner over eller kommer utenom hindringene - både på reisen og i det hele."
Fra "Jenny" av Sigrid Undset.

Villa Borghese, Roma, 7. november 2009

"This is what is so wonderful with leaving -  the influence of the people with whom you accidentally live is broken. 
You learn to see with your own eyes 
and to think for yourself, 
and you understand that it depends only on yourself what you get out of your journey 
- what you are able to see and learn, and how you manage your life, 
and who you choose to let yourself be influenced by.
And you discover, it depends really only on yourself what you get out of your whole life. 
Circumstances count for something, of course, as you said.
But you learn, by your own nature,  how to avoid obstacles or surmount them, 
both on your journey

and in everything."

From "Jenny", Sigrid Undset (1911)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Paris III Birds

Birds in the skies above Paris.
Twittering, chirping, singing, screaming.
Just like the people on the ground below.
My daughter and I, we talked.
During those few days we discussed the major themes of life,
as well as the minor ones.
Uninterrupted conversation.
It was good for her
and for me.

Birds over Pont Neuf bridge and the Seine river

-And in the Tuileries garden by the Louvre museum

Halloween Pumpkin Cat

I'm so proud of our Halloween Pumpkin Cat.  The carving took a long time, and it didn't look like it was going to be a cat, but in the darkness, with a candle inside, it really turned out the way we hoped!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints' Day

Today is the day where people all over the world remember their lost loved ones.  I know that in many countries it is tomorrow, that today is about the Saints, but in the Protestant tradition, these two have become one.  In cemeteries we see candles and lanterns burn on the graves, and the day is often particularly hard for those recently left behind...

I was in church today, and I lit a candle, among many others, on a large rock to the side of the altar.

The following verses (in Norwegian, of course) were read in churches all over Norway today.  They are words of comfort to those who suffer, because of a loss
or for any other reason:

This is what the Lord says:
"In the time of my favor I will answer you,
and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
and to reassign its desolate inheritances,

to say to the captives, 'Come out',
and to those in darkness, 'Be free!'
"They will feed beside the roads
and find pasture on every barren hill.

They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat
or the sun beat upon them.
He who has compassion on them
will guide them
and lead them beside springs of water."

Isaiah 49: 8-10