Friday, October 29, 2010

Buster's World (Busters Verden)

Tonight, some 80's TV Nostalgia from Scandinavia.
This is the theme song from the Danish 80's TV show for kids,  "The World of Buster".  It's about a little boy who becomes a magician.  Bille August directed this series, and later it was made into a movie.  I don't remember much of the story, but I do remember this song, sort of happy and sad at the same time.  Enjoy!

Silent, silent, silent now the sun is rising,
The trolls of the night are disappeared.
The last one flew away in a coffee cup,
and will probably never be found.

There is screaming and hooting far away now,
the world goes on roaring hastily,
While the clowns dance
and people laugh to death,
and the birds are twittering.

Oh Buster,
Oh Buster,
Oh Buster looks at the stars,
and dreams himself away into the blue.

Silent, silent, silent the sun is rising,
it's warm under the covers.
He stretches his drowsy, lazy body,
and rubs his face.

Buster knows something no one else does,
He has learned to do magic,
One day he might be a big and powerful man,
who the whole world will pay homage

Oh Buster,

Oh Buster,
Oh Buster,
As sprung out of a fairytale,
he is riding away on a fable animal
and dreaming himself away into the blue.
Oh Buster,
Oh Buster

Stille stille stille nu står solen op
Nattens trolde er forsvundet
den sidste fløj bort i en kaffekop
og bli´r nok aldrig fundet

Det hyler og tuder i det fjerne nu
verden drøner hastigt videre
mens klovnerne danser og folk dør af grin
og fuglene de kvidrer

Åh Buster
Åh Buster
Åh Buster kigger på stjernerne
og drømmer sig langt ud i det blå

Stille stille stille nu står solen op
der er varmt under dynen
han strækker sin søvnige dovne krop
og gnider sig på trynen

Buster kan noget andre ikke kan
han har nemlig lært at trylle
engang bli´r han sikkert en stor og mægtig mand
som hele verden vil hylde

Åh Buster
Åh Buster
Åh Buster kigger på stjernerne
og drømmer sig langt ud i det blå

Åh Buster
Åh Buster
Som sprunget ud af et eventyr
rider han afsted på et fabeldyr
og drømmer sig langt ud i det blå
Åh Buster

Åh Buster

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Parenting: The Worst Job Ever?

I haven't been tending to my blog these last days.   One of the reasons for this, is that I've been single-parenting my four kids for about 10 days, while having many other work responsibilities on my shoulders.  Well, in the end of the day, I'm so tired, that I just pass out in bed, without even reading my book.  

I'm sorry for neglecting my readers, and tonight you'll have a post, albeit a rather bitter-sweet one... 

Parenting is probably the toughest job there is out there.  
Think about it for a minute: 

  • You're on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There is no vacation time, absolutely no leave of absence.
  • There is no salary, not in the money kind, anyway.
  • The job description says 24/7 for only about 18 years, but that's not true, or so I've heard.  It goes on, way beyond those years.  You're a mom for life, actually. and even when your not 'hands on' parenting, because you're away, or because your kids are in school, you're a mom, and a good portion of your brain keeps dealing with that job - all the time.  There is just no break.
  • And, every little thing you say - or don't say, everything you do - or don't, they have a huge  impact on your job result.   
  • The worst part is that it is actually very easy to mess up, because you never really got proper training for the tasks at hand.  
  • Without real training, you have to be:
  • Cook
  • Maid
  • Cab driver
  • Psychologist
  • Social worker
  • Peace mediator
  • Party planner (And lots more, of course.  I just don't take the time to find more jobs right now.)
  • Very often you have no clue about what to do, and suddenly you realize there isn't any real job description.  You'll try your best, of course, but you'll still mess up, again and again.  Serious complaints will follow, and you'll have to do lots of extra hours to make up for whatever damage you did.

So why would anyone with at least some sanity choose to do this?  Well, apart from that biological stuff, the urge to procreate and the need to see humanity go on, there is lots more.  So much I won't be able to fit it in this blog post, and I wouldn't have anyway, since this is supposed to be the tired, overworked mother's sour remark on parenthood.
I'll still give you a few pictures, just to balance the whole thing:
  • Chubby arms around your neck, tight hug, warm breath against your cheek and a  little voice saying "Hi mommy.  You are very kind.  I'm your boy."..
  • Another voice, in the middle of the night, waking you up because of a bad dream, and, then, peacefully going back to sleep, just because you are there...
  • Conversations that make you believe that your offspring possibly will make a good difference in this world...
  • Text messages in the middle of the day saying that somebody loves you...
  • The knowledge that this is Life, pure and simple, raw and basic, enclosing everything.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Reaching for the Stars.

I'll share with you a moment from last night:
After a long fall day filled with fun, outings and visits, my two and a half-year old was standing on the livingroom sofa, looking out through the bay window.  "Look, Mommy, I can see stars!"  I went over to him, but I wasn't sure if what he saw were the stars out there or just reflections from the living room ceiling lights.  So, I picked him up in my arms, and walked out in the garden, which now was almost completely dark.  We stood on the deck, and I held him so that he could look straight up in the sky where the stars were just coming out for the night.  "How many stars can you see?" I asked him. He started counting, and then he stopped, turned his head and looked at me.  "I want to hold one".  "What? You want to hold one of the stars?"  "Yes, can you help me, Mommy?"
"Oh yes, my darling", I thought to myself.  I would so very much love to help you reach the stars...  Then I gave an explanation that could suffice for now, and I carried the sleepy, little boy into the house again, and to his bed. 

Image from by © suzy1951

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Language Geek...

My name is Kristine, and I'm a language geek. 

I'm going to India i December, for a wedding.  It will only be for a week, but I'm incapable of going anywhere in the world without knowing at least some of the spoken language.  
So, even though you probably manage just fine with English, I've started to study Marathi, the official language of the Marashtra  state.
My goal is to be able to just say everyday expressions, like greetings, ask for directions, and be able to understand some of the writing.
I only have a month and a half, and I do work several jobs, and I do have four children, but with some self discipline I should reach my goal. There is no teacher, just me, a website and a computer program. 
I try to put in a few minutes here and there, and try to remember that I won't really learn the language, just get a taste of it, make it less foreign, in a way. 
To the left here you can see a sample of the Marathi letters, and, to be honest, I'm really not sure if I'll ever remember the difference between these.  But, I'll try, and even if I just learn a tiny, little bit, I'm decided to learn more Marathi than I learned Greek before our Crete holiday two years ago.  The only sentence I had memorized then, was "I have one bottle of Whisky and 200 sigarettes."  Really useful...

Who knows, maybe I'll be able to understand at least some of ads and posters, like this one:

It would be even cooler, of course, if I could understand some of the articles in the Mumbai Mitra newspaper:

Or maybe, one day:

Dream on...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Autumnal Walk - Fall Pictures

This Sunday I went for a walk with my children.  We walked down to the lake, where there is a playground, and always some ducks.  The air was crisp and clean, and everybody had rosy cheeks when we came home for lunch and hot chocolate.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Picture of the day: Gas Station Beauty

Just a picture I took the other day, of a gas station near our neighborhood. 
I was amused by the way it's color scheme matched the surroundings!

Monday, October 11, 2010

I'm going to India...

There, I said it.
Well, I rather wrote it,  but I haven't really wrapped my mind around it yet:  

I am going to India!  

One of the other researchers at my husband's work is Indian.  This summer his parents found him a wife and he is getting married this December.  My husband was invited to the wedding, and so was I!  I was all dizzy when I heard it, but very soon, I touched ground, since there of course was no way I would be going.  Leaving our kids for a week, when we have never been gone together for more than a weekend...  And, who would watch the children?  Our "adopted grandma", a woman we've become close friends with, would love to stay with them, but she isn't available at the time of the wedding. 

I'm ashamed to say so, but I was very, very envious of my husband, who would experience this fairy-tale journey.  I tried to reason with myself, but I just couldn't.  India is sort of "our thing", the country we were going to explore some day, - together!  We were actually planning a one month stay there soon, together with good friends, but the plans had to be postponed.  Now he would go on his own, without any work excuses.

But then, something happened.  My mom called and said she would come down here and take care of our children while we both went to India.  I was surprised, speachless, and very thankful.  It was going to happen!

Well, now I'm on the edge of an anxiety attack by the thought of leaving the four kids for a week, and I've started to gather resources, other parents who will take in one or another of my kids for a day or two, and be my mother's support system.  The list is growing.

Maybe, one of these days, I can really think out loud in my mind this sentence that I'm now writing: 
I am going to India!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Long Day's Journey into Night

went to see a play two nights ago, in Lillehammer.  It was the traveling theatre "Riksteatret" who played "Long Day's Journey into Night" by Eugene O'Neill.  The Norwegian title is "Lang Dags Ferd Mot Natt" .
Wow, what a play.  What a story.  It's about a highly dysfunctional family, hiding dark secrets, not being able to communicate, crippled by drug abuse and alcoholism, sickness, guilt and regrets.

The story itself is very auto-biographical.  O'Neill has put a lot of his own childhood/youth into his writing, as a way of dealing with it, I guess.  He almost killed himself at age 23, but was able to sober up, continue to write, and actually win the Pulizer Price for Drama for "Long Day's Journey...", albeit posthumously.

It's hard being in the audience.  You feel you're in this family's living room, and you feel their pain.  I was actually tired, almost exhausted, when it finished...
This Norwegian version of the drama is played by world famous Liv Ullmann , Bjørn Sundquist, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen and Viktoria Winge.  Direction is by Stein Winge.
The stage is set as a living room, with a color palette in light browns and blues.  This reflects the mood.
"Riksteatret" is a theatre company who is traveling all over Norway, playing in cities, towns and villages, and this play may be their biggest success ever.  All shows are sold out.  They did schedule a couple of extra performances in Oslo and in Stockholm, Sweden, but there is no tickets left.  This is probably the very last time one gets to see Liv Ullmann on stage, so I'm very happy I was able to grab those seats!

Congratulations on an extremely well done drama!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Kitchen Table Bliss

The definition of bliss can be as following:  
When you are spending a week and a half alone with four children;
when it's Saturday, and grocery shopping is done, 
lunch eaten and a couple of laundry loads done 
(and the washing machine and the dish washer are running as we're speaking),
when the house is as clean and tidy as can be expected, 
when your daughters are out with friends,
your youngest boy is sleeping
and your oldest boy plays quietly,
for a tiny, little window of time,
you're all alone in the silence, 
at the kitchen table 
with your coffee, 
your writing and your book.
That's pure bliss!


Friday, October 8, 2010

Picture of the day: Fall Mountain Girl -

This is a picture of my daughter, then one year old, in the middle of the Norwegian mountain area Rondane.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Picture of the day: The Birth of the Virgin, by Ghirlandio

 I saw this frescoe this summer.  It's on the South wall of the Tornabuoni chapel in the choir of the Santa Maria Novella church in Florence.  There is a whole series of frescoes, depicting the life of Virgin Mary, but this one got to me the most.  Maybe it's the fact that I'm a mother, I'm not sure, but probably yes. 
In the painting we can see the Virgin's mother, saint Anne, just after giving birth to her daugher, lying on the bed in the background, while several women are taking care of the newborn little girl. 
More women are entering the room, parading in their best clothes, to pay their respect and to get a glimpse of the baby.  The mother is left in the shadows, behind the main scene, and we can see how the women literally fight over the child.  "Now it's my turn to hold her!".  The woman holding the newborn is smiling like it was her child, there is a bonding going on which the mother isn't a part of.  She doesn't count here.
I feel so sorry for that poor post partum woman, lying there, propped up on her elbow, probably dying to hold her baby, to be alone with her, but without the strength to say so.

Domenico Ghirlandio was a succesfull 
painter in 15th century Florence.  He made two big series of frescoes for Santa Maria Novella: The Life of the Virgin, and The Life of Saint John the Baptist.
Michelangelo was one of the students of his workshop, and he has probably participated in the creation of these frescoes, painted between 1485 and 1490.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

So Long Snow

Last Friday I got to see a local theater performance here in my small town.  "Snøen som falt".  The English title of this co-production between Teater Innlandet and Hetveem Theater (Netherlands) is "So Long Snow." The Norwegian title points to a saying : 'The snow that fell last year', which means all hat is history, gone, 'water under the bridge'.
The show takes place in the future, when winter is just a distant memory of the two characters, working in a weather station.  They remember playing in the snow as kids, but there are no more snow, no more ice.  Winter is probably forgotten by everyone else but these two...
At the weather station where they now work, there is no longer a metereologist, only the projection of one.  In the Norwegian version of the play, Kristen Gislefoss, a nationally known TV weather person,  is the person projected on the wall.  He can also be seen on a photograph on the desk, featuring the two only employees of the station.
It's a strange play, with no real talking.  Lots of things are happening, or rather not happening, for no obvious reason.  The two characters have all kinds of substitutes for snow: Paper shreds, cream topping, sugar cubes...  Strange sounds.  The light goes on and off.  All seats are close to the stage, surrounding it, and we can hear strong sound effects all around us, for instance the crunchy sound of walking in thick snow. 

As I see it, though being strange and 'alternative', it's a nostalgic play.  It may be about the climate crisis too, but it's really about how we try to hold on to what is long gone...

The trailer for the Dutch version of the play:

Direction: Karen Røise Kielland
Actors: Kenneth Homstad and Anne van Dorp (and Kristen Gislefoss)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Three Little Apple Trees

I bought tree apple trees this summer.
Main goal: Having a hammock tied  between them when they get big and sturdy.  It will be my nap place.
Yes, I know, it will take ages, and, why didn't I buy them nine years ago, when we first came here?  Well, just because the idea  just came to me this summer, that's why.
Everybody said we would have to wait a couple of years, maybe more, before having apples to harvest, but we proved them wrong!  There were a few flowers here and there, and  before long we could spot small apples, growing bigger every week, threathening to brake the thin, wobbly branches...  This week I decided to harvest our crop, before any branches snapped, and those skinny, unsturdy, flimsical teenaged trees,
well, - they gave us exactly 18 beautiful and spotless apples.

Yes, and we harvested some baby pumpkins as well, since frost is around the corner, and we couldn't wait for them to grow bigger...  Guess we'll have to buy the halloween carving ones from a store this year.
But, they make for great decorations, and the apples are really, really good!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book Review: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

 I recently read this classic to my 11-year-old and my 6-year-old.  It's the 1999-edition, illustrated with watercolors by Helen Oxenbury, and it's the integral text by Lewis Carroll, written in 1865.  Lots of difficult words and complicated sentences, and my two (English as a second language...)  middle kids don't always get everything without some explanation, but they loved every single minute of our nighttime reading sessions.  I read it to my two eldest kids a few years ago, so for my 11-year-old, is was the second time, but I think he enjoyed it even more because of that.  We would usually read one chapter a night, but sometimes more, if they begged.
Like I said, it's not a simple story.  But, the absurdities, all the things that are impossible, backwards and upside-down, those are the things a child's imagination is made of, and I think that is why this story has survived centuries and many, many generations.
The illustrations are beautiful,  several of them cover two full pages, and that makes for a nice 'break' between the words, a few moments of looking at the picture, recognizing the different characters.
I think I enjoyed the reading every bit as much as my kids!  I love the language, the well known strangeness of dreams, and I love reading to my children.  In addition to the literary aspect of it, those are moments of closeness, serenity, and - hopefully - stuff that good memories are made of...

The tea party with the March Hare, the Mad Hatter and the Dormouse.

Alice is growing bigger...

Bill the lizard gets emergency help from his friends, after being kicked out of the chimney...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Four Seasons by Vivaldi - as Ballet!

 I went to see a ballet a couple of days ago, in Oslo, at the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet.  The performance was The Four Seasons by Vivaldi, choreographed by the Norwegian Jo Strømgren.
It is a ballet like you've never seen before, and Strømgren has interpreted the seasons in his own way, with humour, seriousness and absurdity.  Here you have a concentration camp (fall) and a huge,"living" pig (winter)...  

There are four tableaus, showing different aspects of our time, and of our recent history.  In between these chapters, there are a couple, dancing in front of a curtain made of almanac pages.  They tie the whole performance together, and they observe the different scenes with us, until, in the end, they are alone on the big, darkened stage, with only illuminated, silverly snow falling down around them.

The Norwegian newspaper reviews were not kind to this performance, so, I didn't go there with a whole lot of expectations.  Well, I enjoyed it!  I laughed, I was startled, and I was moved by the beauty of the music and the dance.
Maiko Nishino is divine as the "red thread dancer", and Gilles Berger has done an insane job with the scenography.
Congratulations on a very special  show, and even though the older 'regulars' of the opera/ballet house came with disapproving sounds here and there, I loved it, and so did my daughter, who has been taking ballet classes since she was 3.  She has previously seen The Nutcracker (at least 3 times) and Swan Lake, and she was amazed over how different this was.  She was so excited from the show, that she literally danced while walking to the train station that night.

For more information about this production, click here.  

Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Review: Inés of my Soul by Isabel Allende

She is from Chile.  She lives in the US now.  She is one of my favorite authors.  I've read many of her books, and I love her voice, even though I sometimes read her books in the Norwegian translation.
"Inés of my Soul", or "Inés, jeg elsker deg", in Norwegian, is a heavy book.
Not heavy as in a brick or as in "takes a lot of space in your bag", but heavy in the sense of tough descriptions, tough themes, and filled with people, countries, geography and history.
It's actually a biographical novel.  Allende has based her story on the historic material on Inéz de Suárez, the Spanish woman who, together with Pedro de Valdivia, conquered Chile and co-founded Santiago in 1541.
We meet her as a young girl in Extremadura in Spain, and we follow her across the ocean to the New World, first to Peru, and then, together with the love of her life, Pedro de Valdivia, all the way to Chile, where she will live until she dies.
Allende writes with a love for her country that shines through everything.  We can sense the admiration and respect for the different native tribes who already lived there when the Spanish conquistadors came.  There are horrible descriptions of how the Indians were treated by the Spanish, but also vice-versa.
Allende manages to tell the story and the absurdness in the fact that people can commit atrocities against innocent people, and feel in their hearts that this is right, and it's God's will.  On the same time she kind of excuses them, almost like you excuse small children, not knowing better.  
("Forgive them, Lord, they don't know what they're doing"...)
She describes how the young kingdom of Chile is born, and how it's people becomes a mix of the native Indians and the invaders from Europe.
If you can't stand war scenes and gruesomness, shy away from this novel.  But, if you can manage to get past those horrible pages with some  kind of distance, you'll discover a saga, and a rich, colorful love story of Inés de Suarez, Pedro de Valdivia and many, many others who together weave this incredible - and true - retelling of the birth of Chile.