Friday, February 26, 2010

More favorites from Canada

Yes, here is a new selection of what I love about Canada:

Victoria B.C.

Joni Mitchell


For Better or For Worse

Celine Dion

Québec City

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What I love about Canada

In these final Olympic days, I will share with you what I love most about Canada.  Here is a selection:


Bryan Adams

Roch Voisine

Anne of Green Gables 
(Both the book and TV-series)



Maple Syrup


Canada Dry 
(Yes, it is originally from Canada)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

From Karen Blixen

Today I'll just quote Karen Blixen:

"Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, 
how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, 
and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever..."

If I could only learn this by heart, and understand it too...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Olympic Spirit

It's kind of strange.  I'm  really not that into sports.  The all-European #1 sport, soccer (fotball, foot),  normally I could care less about it.  The local team, the English teams, Champion's league, I have no clue.  
But, once in a while, or, to be more specific, every 4th year, there is the World Cup, and something happens to me: Maybe a mutation in my brain, maybe a transformation not unlike the one werewolves experience, I don't know.  But, whatever the reason, I become interested.  Suddenly I know everything there is to know about soccer.  I'm watching games on TV late at night, I'm all into the Croatian team, I know the names on all the French players, and don't even mention my state of mind if  Norway takes part.
With the Olympics, it's the same thing.   It begins already with the opening ceremony.  I'm all emotions and excitement, watching while the athletes go marching in, seeing the olympic torch lightening the huge flame who is going to burn for 16 days.  Maybe it is the historical aspect, the lines drawn all the way back to antique Greece.   Maybe it's the aspect of having all the world getting together to play, making entertainment, not war...  Yes, I know there are intrigues, money talk, prestige etc etc, of course there is, when human beings are involved, but, the bottom line is that people are playing, not shooting.
By the way, sometimes they do shoot.   I just love biathlon.  For those among you who don't know this sport, it is a combination of nordic skiing (cross-country) and target shooting.  Imagine going full speed for miles, and then being able to stand still and concentrate enough to hit target, five times...
 I'm watching different ski competitions and figure skating, curling games and downhill skiing, and I love it, because it is the Olympics.  I'm not addicted to it, and it doesn't matter that much if I don't watch it, but if  possible, I watch some of it every day.  I love hearing the National Anthems (not only the Norwegian one!), seeing medals being given to the winners and flags being raised.  I love seeing beautiful winter landscapes, seing people from all over the world standing there, watching, all bundled up and singing to keep warm.  I love the spirit of the whole thing, and I'm not ashamed of it.  In a week or so it will be over, and I'm back to not being particularly interested in sports.  
Photo borrowed from Whole Travel Blog 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Snow falling on playground

Snow Falling on Playground

The swing is touching the ground now.
It’s of no use anymore.
Not moving
because freedom has been lost. 
The ground been lifted up towards the seat
until they finally met
and the swing had to stop it’s lonely dance,
the only reason for being.
A soft, but ice cold embrace that locks everything down.
At least for now.

Snøfall på lekeplass.

Husken berører bakken nå.
Den kan ikke lenger brukes
Beveger seg ikke
for den har mistet friheten.
Bakken har blitt løftet opp mot setet
til de to møttes
og husken måtte stoppe den ensomme dansen,
selve vitsen med tilværelesen.
En myk, men iskald omfavnelse som stanser alt.
Inntil videre.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Happy Days In Norway by Sigrid Undset

I finished it yesterday, while cleaning my house.  Yes, audio books are wonderful, and coupled with my iPhone, I can read while I'm folding laundry, cooking, or working at my desk editing photos or making proof albums.
The book was published in 1949, in the United States, and it was originally in English. 
It was part of a project, an idea by Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt, where authors from different occupied countries should write a children's book about what it was like to be a child in that particular country before the war, when the days were still happy...
Undset writes about her own family and their life in Lillehammer, a small Norwegian town.  Even though this book originally was written for children, it is a wonderful read for older people too.  The story follows the family during one full year, and we learn about Christmas traditions, school life and everyday situations.  But, within this "simple life" kind of story, there is also several deep and interesting lectures on Norwegian history and culture.  As a Norwegian I actually learned things I never knew, or at least never thought about in that way, and as with all Undset books, there are so many places to quote.  See my post about real happiness , where I've given you one of these wonderful passages.
Sigrid Undset is one of my favorite authors.  I love her words, her way of explaining, painting with language.  And, her life story is interesting as well.  Receiving the Nobel Literature Price, writing many, many outstanding books, and raising three children, mostly as a single mother.  I'm in awe.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Three Stages of Projects in Life

When it comes to projects in life, there are three stages:
Stage 1: The planning
Stage 2: The work in progress
Stage 3: The final result

I think which stage you prefer might define you - in some way.  I haven't yet figured out in which way that is, but I'm intrigued by this, and I may come back to it later.  
When it comes to craft projects, I'm often an adept of Stage 1.  
I love getting the inspiration, browsing through magazines and stores, admiring and dreaming.
I enjoy the planning, the thinking and the buying of fabric more than I enjoy the actual crafting, and much more than I ever enjoy the final result.  Don't misunderstand, I do love the sewing, knitting, drawing, or any other kind of making, but for me the creative thinking is even more fun.
With reading it is definitively both Stages 1 and 2.  I enjoy bookstores, no, I love bookstores.  I could actually live permanently in a bookstore.  But, I also enjoy book titles just given to me, as well as books bought for me, because the actual reading is so great.  When it's all over, I often feel empty, like someone 
Writing is strange.  Stage 1 scares me.  I'm so afraid of not being able to write.  Stage 2 is sometimes dreadful, boring, hopeless, and sometimes invigorating, uplifting, wonderful and of a different world.  Stage 3 can be really good, but mostly disappointing.
Photography is much like writing, but I enjoy Stage 3 a lot more.
In the cooking department I hate Stage 1, but I mostly enjoy Stage 2 (if somebody else took care of Stage 1, that is planning and grocery shopping!), and I prefer Stage 3, the final result!
With home improvement projects, I'm a little bit Stage 1, but ten times more Stage 3.
Stage 2 makes me want to escape the planet.  
I can dream a little bit about how I want things to be, but what I really prefer is just having somebody figuring it all out and just doing it so I can enjoy my peaceful Stage 3.
In life's bigger projects, I almost always prefer Stage 1.  I'm a dreamer, and dreams don't often come true.  Becoming a mother is a huge exception.  The actual happening is more then you could ever picture.
I could go on, of course, but I'll stop here. It would be interesting to hear about where you prefer to be in your different projects in life.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My youngest baby

I take lots of pictures of my children, and I love making scrapbooks, either digitally or "real" ones.  But, lateley I haven't gotten around to do any of it, and now I'm just starting to look through photos from the last few years.  In the process I discovered these pictures of my youngest, then nine months old.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Because I Loved Her ( Je l'aimais)

Last night I watched a movie - in a theater! My mom is here for a few days, and she and the kids spent some hours together, while we had a full date night of dinner and movie. Nice!
Living in a small town, we never have a big choice in movies, but I was happy to see they showed Zabou Breitman's movie "Je l'amais".  
The Norwegian title is "Jeg elsket henne" and the English "Because I loved her."  
It is a screen adaption of Anna Gavalda's novel. (Same title) I liked reading the book a couple of years ago, and since French movies don't come around too often here, there was no doubt in my mind whether I should choose this one or "Did you hear about the Morgans?".
There is a story within a story here, and while the main plot takes place over a day or two, the other one, the longer story which is told in a mountain cabin, during a long night in front of the fireplace, is clearly the most important.
Somebody left the theater. I guess a French love tale of lost love might be too much for some nordic souls. Well, I think we should learn to approach these themes. The main themes of human life. And, here Gavalda and Breitman talk about being able to love, and whether a given love is right - or not.
The leading roles are played by Daniel Auteuil and Marie-Josée Croze.

The movie trailer:

Click here to learn more.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tarnished Beauty by Cecilia Samartin

I finished it late yesterday night.  Way too late, actually, but I had to read, had to follow the story all the way until the end.
I highly recommend this read too, but, I think I still like Broken Paradise even better.  I don't know why, but that book just touched me very, very deeply.  
But, don't get me wrong.  I loved Tarnished Beauty, and I was actually disappointed when it ended, would have loved to follow Jamilet for a little while longer.  My mind goes on right now, spinning the continuation of the story.
A Mexican girl leaving for the US in search of a miracle.  The story of an old Spanish man who also searches for something.  Two stories interwoven in a seamless way. If you haven't read it yet, don't wait!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Paris Memories / Opéra Garnier

Here are some more snapshots from our mother-daughter weekend in Paris last October, and I show you another landmark: Palais Garnier, known as the Opéra de Paris.  It was built by Charles Garnier, opened in 1875, and first known as L'Académie Nationale de Musique - Théatre de l'Opéra.  It was only in 1978 it got the name Théâtre Nationale de l'Opéra de Paris, but when the Paris Opera moved to the Bastille in 1989, this building was just called Palais Garnier.  But, I would say almost everybody still thinks about this Néo-Baroque wonder as The Opera of Paris.  
This is the setting for The Phantom of the Opera, the 1909 Novel written by Gaston Leroux, and later made into several movies and stage performances, the best known being Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical from 1986.

The original name of the building can still be read above the columns.
My daughter is being very patient with mom taking all this pictures...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Real Happiness is Expensive

These are the words of the Norwegian author Sigrid Undset, from her book "Happy Times in Norway", written during the World War 2, while she lived in the US.  I'll write more about the book when I've finished it.  (Started listening to it on audio book last weekend, while traveling by train to  Oslo for a conference).  
I simply had to write down these lines, and here you can read them.  First, my own English translation, then the original Norwegian text.

"Behind all fun who really is fun, and behind all intense and sorrowless joy, there is always a deep and deadly seriousness.
It is only those things in life which we have bought at great expense who become so dear to us that they become a source of the real, bright joys, of genuine frivolity and hearty laughter.
People complain about youth supposedly being too frivolous these days, you have probably all heard this.  Me, I don't know.  I would love it if you could one day own the heartfelt frivolity in your souls, the kind that men and women obtain when they have had to fight with life and learned about themselves that they are capable of taking on tough battles and carrying the heaviest burdens."

"Bakom all moro som virkelig er morsom, og bakom all inderlig og sorgløs glede, ligger det alltid et dypt og dødelig alvor.
Det er bare de tingene i livet som vi har kjøpt dyrt, som blir så kjære for oss at de blir en kilde til de ekte lyse gledene,  til virkelig lettsindighet og hjertelig latter.
Folk klager over at ungdommen skal være så lettsindig nå til dags, ja det har dere vel sikkert hørt alle sammen.
Jeg vet ikke, jeg.  Jeg for min del vil være glad hvis dere kunne komme til å eie den virkelige lettsindigheten i sinnet, som menn og kvinner vinner når de har fått prøver krefter med livet og lært om seg selv at de orker å ta de tunge takene og bære de tyngste byrdene."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The eye of the beholder

Today I taught a photography class for the very first time.
I was up at 6:30 am, reading through my notes and checking the illustrations, being rather nervous about the whole thing.  What if it didn't turn out the way I hoped?  What if I wasn't able to get my message across?
Well, now it's done, and I think I can say that it was a success!  I'm really excited, and looking forward to the next time!
The class was hosted by a friend,  in her restaurant Lasse Liten , and she had arranged for delicious snacks and drinks, and the most amazing lunch.
I read this poem to my students today, and now I'll share it with you:  
Through The Eye Of The Beholder  (Gjennom øynene til den som ser

Photo: Julia Margaret Cameron

Through The Eye Of The Beholder
Author: Katie Clark
Through the eye of the beholder
A memory can last forever
And new ones can be made
Always cherished

Through the eye of the beholder
The quick close of the shutter can change history
Make headlines
Change peoples lives forever

Through the eye of the beholder
Wars have been fought and won
Missing children have been found and returned
Murderers have been locked away

Through the eye of the beholder
A guilty man is charged
While an innocent man is saved
Set free

Through the eye of the beholder
Some people make a career
A living they are proud of
A life they can show others

Through the eye of the beholder
Precious moments are caught
Tears of joy and tears of pain
New lives and old lives

Through the eye of the beholder
Life can be seen through a camera lens
New adventures are waiting, just around the corner
And old ones will never be forgotten 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My pensive boy

While working on my photography class, I came across these pictures of my son.  They are taken in June 2006, in the ruins of Scarborough castle, in Yorkshire,  on the east coast of England.  My then 7-year old  son looks like he is daydreaming, which he often is.

Pasta Carbonara

Early morning, and before getting on with my day, I give you a dinner suggestion for tonight: Pasta Carbonara. This Italian dish is a wonderful change from the meat sauce you probably have more often.  I made this the other day, and it was a huge success with everybody.
Before you stop reading:
If you are single, married, student, working, not working, have kids or not, you do eat, don't you?  And this is very simple, so easy to make, and it tastes heavenly!  Did I say it's easy to make?  And did I say it don't take long?  Basically, just the time it takes to boil your pasta!

Pasta Carbonara

Bacon (rindless): 3/4 lbs / 300g
Eggs: 5
Cream or half-and-half : 1 lb /4-5 dl (Norway: Matfløte)
Garlic: 2 cloves
Grated Parmesan:  4-5 tbs / ss
Tomataoes: 2 large, or 3-4 smaller
1/2 onion (yellow or red)
Pasta (Spirali, Penne): 1 1/4 lbs /5-600g 

1-2 tsp /ts salt
1 tbs /ss cooking oil
Fresh ground pepper
  1.  Cut bacon in small pieces.  Chop the garlic cloves in tiny pieces. 
  2. Cut the tomates  in small cubes, chop the onion in tiny, tiny pieces. Set aside in two bowls.
  3. Boil water with some salt and oil, add pasta and cook accordingly to directions.  When done, drain, and put back in pot.
  4. While the pasta is cooking: Cook the bacon in frying pan on high heat.  When done, turn down to very low heat, add chopped garlic.
  5. In a medium size bowl: Beat eggs, add cream and grated parmesan and some fresh ground pepper.  Add bacon and garlic to the bowl.
  6. When the pasta is drained and put back in the pot, add the mixture,  low to medium heat, and stir until you notice the eggs starting to thicken.  (just a few minutes).
Serve immediately.  Bowls of tomatoes and onions are put on the table, everybody can sprinkle on top of their plate.  Serve with French or Italian bread, or Norwegian loff or rundstykker (dinner rolls)

This is enough for a family of six.  And if you are less people, make half the recipe, or have yummy leftovers! (Ideal for heating in the microwave oven!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blizzard Morning Talk

I know my writing has been rather erratic lately.  Well, I don't know if I really have an excuse, and  hopefully there will be more readworthy posts soon.  In the meantime, I'll just update you on what's life is like on a ordinary Wednesday morning, in a small Norwegian town.
I was up at 6 am, making myself a steaming cup of coffee (my darling French Press to-go cup), drinking a glass of orange juice before heading out to my workout session.  It was black darkness out there, just a faint glow from the street lamps, competing with the heavy snowfall.  I didn't see a living soul, the snow had no footprints, and I had the strange feeling of being the only person awake while everybody else is sleeping.
Now, after getting my school kids on their way, taking a shower and changing my toddler's diaper, I finally have time for breakfast.  Hot oatmeal with cinnamon and another cup of coffee.  Daylight has come, the snow has stopped falling, but because of the wind, there is a real blizzard outside my kitchen window.  Later today I'll be working on my upcoming photography class, but this morning is all about spending time with my youngest child and maybe getting my awfully messy house cleaned up.
Have a wonderful Wednesday!